Cape Town – The South African Department of Home Affairs is doing everything in their power to legalise Lesotho nationals’ stays in South Africa.
In an effort to push up the number of applicants for the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) and create a one-stop shop to save applicants’ time, the DHA on Tuesday, 27 September, announced a new special provision that allows Basotho to apply for the Lesotho Special Permit, at the VFS Global-operated application centres, without passports.
Previously, one of the requirements for Lesotho nationals to gain permission to stay in SA legally was to have a valid passport or travel document with a unique Lesotho identity (ID) number. The previous requirement further stated that the passport be valid for a period of more than four years.
South Africa had earlier granted amnesty to all Basotho nationals until 31 December 2016 to handover fraudulent SA IDs at dedicated Home Affairs offices. Those who comply will be eligible to apply for LSP with the application closing date remaining 30 September 2016.
The Department will make these concessions applicable:
People with Lesotho ID cards but without valid passports can apply for LSP by 30 September 2016. However, they must provide their passports by 31 December 2016.
Those who have submitted a fully completed application form but have not paid for their visa can do so by 31 December 2016.
If applying with a passport, applicants with passports expiring within the next two years and having the LSP visa in them, can use both their old and new passports. In these cases, there would be no need to apply and pay for transfer of LSP visas.
Basotho applicants for the LSP must now only fulfill of the following requirements:
Be registered on the National Population Register (NPR) system of Lesotho and a have a Lesotho ID card.
Lesotho nationals who are in South Africa for less than 12 months need to have a police clearance certificate from Lesotho that is not more than six months old.
Applicants DO NOT need to apply for a South African police clearance certificate. The DHA in South Africa will obtain the South African Police Service clearance on behalf of all LSP applicants.
Applicants should also provide proof of employment or an affidavit from their employer in order to be issued with an LSP work permit.
For registration with an educational institution, all supporting documents or letters from an employer, school or business must show that the applicant has been residing in South Africa since before 30 September 2015.
NOTE: Those applicants who may have fraudulently obtained South African documents need to surrender them to the designated DHA office, and obtain an amnesty letter. This amnesty is until 31 December 2016.
Those who have applied have until the end of December 2016 to pay for the special permit and present their valid passports to receive the permit.
The end of September marks the deadline for undocumented Basotho who work, study or do business in South Africa to get the necessary assistance in order to regularise their stay.
Thus, Lesotho nationals have only seven days left to visit one of the 11 LSP where they will be assisted with their permit applications. The LSP project was launched in March this year, following which, a three-month extension was granted on 30 June to allow more time for Basotho nationals to apply.
To date, only 12%, or 77 720 people of the estimated 400 000 Lesotho nationals living in South Africa have applied for the LSP. Of these, 50 303 have made the necessary payment and booked appointments to visit VFS Global centres countrywide to complete the process.
Basotho who have still not applied must do so speedily, as the DHA says there will be no extensions for Lesotho permits to be issued.