A small window is now open to former Angolan refugees still living in South Africa on expired Angolan Cessation Permits to apply for permanent residency.
Following a year of legal steps and negotiations between the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and the Department of Home Affairs regarding the legal status of former Angolan refugees in South Africa, the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has agreed to consider and determine applications for permanent residence in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act for all former Angolan refugees who were issued temporary Angolan Cessation Permits (ACPs) and who were unable to legalise their documentation once these permits expired.
ACPs allowed those who qualified to continue to live, work and study in South Africa for another two years and did not require the former Angolan refugees to meet the stringent requirements for regular permits as found under the Immigration Act. However, all ACPs have expired in October 2015.
After discussions with the Department of Home Affairs, the Western Cape High Court issued a court order which outlines a process by which all former Angolan refugees with expired ACPs may apply to the minister for permanent residence on special grounds.
As a part of this agreement, the Scalabrini Centre will be conducting the administrative processing of the applications for all ACP holders in Cape Town before submitting these applications to the minister.
Information sessions on the application process will be conducted on a first come, first serve basis at the Scalabrini Centre, situated at 43-47 Commercial Street, Cape Town.
The dates and times for these sessions are:
Friday November 25: 9am to 3pm
Saturday November 26: 10am to 1pm
Wednesday N ovember 30: 9am to 3pm
Thursday December 1: noon to 3pm
Friday December 2: 9am to 3pm
Saturday December 3: 10am to 1pm
ACP holders will need to download the court order and Home Affairs Form 47 from the website www.scalabrini.org.za Before Thursday December 15 they also need to go to any police station to apply for a police clearance certificate, attaching the court order to their application.
Every aspect of the application process, aside from the cost of the police clearance certificate, is free of charge.
Although by now all ACPs have expired, the police and Home Affairs have agreed not to arrest, detain or deport any Angolans who have an ACP.
Angolans in possession of these permits are encouraged to carry their permits and a copy of the court order with them at all times.
In addition, the public and institutions need to know that permit holders still have the right to work, study, access primary healthcare, register births of their children and attend all levels of education.
From Thursday December 8 to Thursday December 15 and from Tuesday January 3 to Friday January 20, ACP holders can submit their completed application, police clearance and other supporting documents to the Scalabrini Centre.
The Scalabrini Centre will issue receipts to all individuals who complete their applications during that period and will collate all applications and submit them to the Department of Home Affairs for review.
The minister will send all decisions in writing to the Scalabrini Centre on May 15 2017. All applicants can visit the centre on May 16 to collect their written refusal or acceptance.
Angolans with ACPs living in other cities may contact partner organisations to submit their applications remotely. For more information, contact the Scalabrini Centre at 021 465 6433, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.scalabrini.org.za