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A few weeks ago it was announced that Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders and Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP) holders have been granted a further extension until 29 November 2024. However, some aspects are not entirely clear.

Lesotho and Zimbabwean Nationals

Extension of existing permits: While there are some contradictions between the press statement issued by the Minister of Home Affairs on 29 November 2023 and the directives issued on 4 December 2023, it is at least clear that current ZEP and LEP holders are free to live and work in South Africa until at least 29 November 2024.

The issuing of new permits: In the press statement the Minister called upon all the affected Lesotho and Zimbabwean nationals “to make use of the window of opportunity to apply for new exemption permits”. According to the press statement, any ‘new’ exemption permits that are issued will expire on 29 November 2025.

Other foreigners

While the Minister’s announcement comes as a relief to ZEP and LEP holders, the deadline for other foreign nationals whose visa or waiver application outcomes are still pending, remains 31 December 2023.

It is not clear where those with pending applications stand, but it is doubtful that any action will be taken against those who submitted legitimate applications within the prescribed time limit – see our newsletter earlier this year at

- Department of Home Affairs’ press release
- Immigration Directive for ZEP Holders
- Immigration Directive for LEP Holders

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