South African Home Affairs authorities have offered Lesotho nationals living and working in South Africa an extended grace period to allow applicants more time to apply for a Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) by 31 December 2016.
The Department has also gone the extra mile to make the application process more convenient and easier. Applicants now only need to visit the application centre once, and not twice as was the case previously (see box below for simplified 2-step process). The new process is expected to save applicants time.
Basotho are urged not to wait till the last minute to apply for this permit and should visit the nearest VFS Global-operated application centre as soon as possible. There are limited appointments available each day and early application will help to avoid disappointment.
There will be no further extensions given and the Department of Home Affairs has indicated that following the grace period, Basotho living in South Africa illegally will be deported.
The LSP was first announced in January 2016. It seeks to make provision for the estimated 400 000 Basotho residents, said to be living in South Africa, to attain legal status.
The permit is valid for four years. The initial application process began in March 2016 and was due to end in June 2016. There have been two extensions since then, culminating in this final extension to 31 December 2016.
A total of 102 316 Lesotho nationals, i.e. more than a quarter of the estimated Basotho living in South Africa, have submitted online applications. Of these, 64 427 applicants have made the necessary payments and scheduled appointments at VFS Global offices.
Earlier, the Department issued an extension to 30 September 2016 to manage the low levels of response and feedback from applicants to simplify the application process. There will be no further extension beyond this final grace period.
Applicants need to apply and pay for their permits by 31 December 2016 to ensure their applications are processed. Beyond this date, if the application process is incomplete, and those found in the country without the documents that legalise their stay may be deported.
- Lesotho nationals who have applied should phone the VFS call-centre to check if their permits are ready for collection, and duly collect them.
- Basotho who produced Lesotho ID cards when applying, without valid passports, are to provide their passports latest by 31 March 2017.
- All those who have paid but have not completed the application process by end March 2017 will face deportation. This goes also for those who did not make any attempt to regularise their stay in South Africa.
- Names of applicants who have filled in the forms but have not completed the process will be referred to the Ports of Entry for listing. The amnesty and the moratorium not to deport will be lifted on 31 March 2017.
- Between now and end of December, extra effort will be made to encourage more people to apply, to complete the process, and to collect their special permits. VFS Global teams will streamline the application and payment process to make it easier for the applicants.
- From 1 to 30 November 2016, VFS Global teams, including eight mobile units, will go out to the provinces to assist people who cannot travel to VFS Global centres. In December 2016, the teams will focus on the main ports of entry. In this regard, a detailed schedule will be provided by the department.
- Applicants can now deposit their payment at any Standard Bank branch using their Lesotho ID numbers as the reference number. The slip must be kept and presented as proof of payment when visiting the VFS Global centre to enroll biometrics and complete the process.
- For better deployment of resources, Basotho are advised to visit Home Affairs offices to confirm their readiness to apply. This is for registration of interest, not for the actual application for LSP.
- Home Affairs offices will take their names and compile lists to ensure smart deployment of mobile units and additional resources. Home Affairs offices open on Saturdays.
- Lesotho authorities will continue providing more services for Basotho to get Lesotho birth certificates and ID cards so they can apply for the SA-issued special permits.
2-STEP PROCESS TO SUBMIT AN LSP APPLICATION
LSP applicants now only require the original stamped Bank Deposit Slip and Lesotho Birth Certificate or Lesotho ID to submit their Lesotho Special Permit Application at any Lesotho Special Permit Facilitation Center.
HOW TO APPLY FOR THE LSP
Step 1: Make payment at the bank
Applicants can go to any Standard Bank branch and pay the mandatory fees*. While making the payment, enter your Lesotho ID / Lesotho birth certificate number as the reference number on the bank deposit slip. See sample image below.
Payment details as follows:
Account Name: VFS Visa Processing (SA)
Bank Name: Standard Bank
Account Number: 001918346
*Adults (18years and over) pay a total of R970. Minors (below 18years of age) pay a total of R900.
VFS Global Refunds policy applies.
Step 2: Submit application at the LSP Center
Applicant needs to provide the original stamped Bank Receipt (received after payment at the bank) at the time of submission of application. No payments will be accepted at the Permit Facilitation Centre.
To avoid serious consequences including loss of work, study and business prospects, arrest and deportation, do not miss this opportunity! Apply before the 31 December 2016 deadline!