Special programme will support Lesotho nationals in South Africa to live and work officially
CITZENS of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho are now able to easily apply for the Department of Home Affairs Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) to make their residence in South Africa official.
This development follows the recent announcement by the South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba that an agreement had been reached between the two governments.
The aim of the LSP programme will ease penalties on Lesotho nationals who may have come under pressure to take up residence in South Africa, for a range of reasons, and applies to those who were already in the country before 30 September 2015. Essentially it is a special dispensation for Lesotho nationals who are working, studying or running businesses in South Africa.
“We want people to realise that this special permit is intended to make the lives of the Basotho people easier,” Gigabasaid. “We call upon employers to assist in encouraging, facilitating and allowing their employees to apply for the special permit.
“The end result will be improved relations and cooperation between the Lesotho and South Africa, and smuggling and human trafficking will also be more easily tackled,” he said.
As with the similar and successful Zimbabwe Special Permit programme, introduced in August 2014, applications will be facilitated online on the VFS Global website, but the adjudication thereof will be handled by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
“Our teams are ready to handle the high volumes of applications,” said Jiten Vyas, VFS Global Chief Operations Officer, for Africa. “We are making every effort to expand our community outreach. So besides fixed application centres, we are also launching mobile centres and week-long registration drives at different locations to reach the maximum number of applicants. The application process itself is designed to be as easy and effective an experience as possible.”
“Our hope is that by the end of June 2016 we will have had a high response rate from the citizens of Lesotho, so they can move freely between home and their places of work or business in South Africa,” Vyas said.
To ensure smooth facilitation, the South African Government has granted a moratorium on deportations until 31 December 2016.
An amnesty has also been extended to Lesotho nationals willing to surrender fraudulent permits or South African passports and identification books/cards. Amnesty letters will be issued to applicants as proof.
The Basotho currently have 1.2 million citizens on the country’s National Population Register (NPR) and this is expected to increase as more people become aware of the LSP dispensation.
It is estimated that there are over 400 000 people from Lesotho living in South Africa without either valid residence or work permits (visas), making their stay in the country both unofficial and unlawful. The LSP will rectify this and allow Lesotho nationals to access economic opportunities lawfully.
The DHA is facilitating dedicated LSP application centres through its partnership with VFS Global.
- Limpopo: Polokwane
- North West: Rustenburg
- Western Cape: Cape Town and George
- Mpumalanga: Nelspruit
- Gauteng: Midrand and Bedfordview in Johannesburg
- Eastern Cape: Port Elizabeth
- Free State: Bloemfontein
- KwaZulu-Natal: Durban
- Northern Cape: Kimberley
The VFS Centres are listed on the VFS website www.vfsglobal.com/lsp/southafrica.
To qualify for the LSP, a Lesotho national must:
- Be registered on the National Population Register (NPR) system of Lesotho.
- Have a valid passport or travel document with a unique Lesotho identity (ID) number.
- Ensure that the passport is valid for a period of more than four years. If the validity period of the passport or the travel document is less than four years, the holder will bear the cost of the replacement of both the passport and the LSP into the new passport.
- 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.
- Provide proof of:
o Employment or an affidavit from employer – to be issued with an LSP work permit.
o Business registration with SARS and CIPRO – to get an LSP business permit.
o Registration with an education institution – for an LSP study permit.
- All supporting documents or letters must prove that the applicant has been residing in South Africa since before 30 September 2015.
- Applicants do not need to apply for a South African police clearance certificate. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in South Africa will obtain the South African Police Service clearance on behalf of all LSP applicants.
- Those applicants who may have fraudulently obtained South African documents need to surrender them to the nearest DHA office and obtain an amnesty letter.
- The amnesty is until 31 December 2016. The list of DHA offices to surrender the documents is available onwww.vfsglobal.com/lsp/southafrica
Call Centre: +27 87 230 0411
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Department of Home Affairs @HomeAffairsSA
- flickr.com/photos/122168044@N05 Dept of Home Affairs
To apply for an LSP and schedule an appointment, a Lesotho national must take the following steps:
- Applicant registers on the National Population Register (NPR) in Lesotho to receive a unique ID number.
- Applicant applies online through www.vfsglobal.com/lsp/southafrica.
- Applicant receives an appointment to appear in person at a VFS office.
- Applicant submits supporting documents i.e. Lesotho police clearance certificate, valid passport, proof of employment or affidavit from employer, proof of registration with an education institution or proof of business registration.
- Applicant awaits outcome which is delivered to the VFS office within eight weeks of the date of receipt at the DHA.
- Applicant collects the LSP outcome from VFS office**.
The cost of an LSP application is ZAR970.
*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.
**LSP permit applications will be managed by VFS Visa Processing SA Pty Ltd and adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs of the Republic of South Africa.