Angolan ex-refugees in South Africa who were given a two-year deadline in 2013 to return to their country have been given a chance to apply for residency
This is in terms of a settlement reached last week in a year-long case regarding former Angolan refugees still living in South Africa on expired Angolan Cessation Permits.
According to the Legal Resources Centre (LRC)‚ the negotiated settlement allows for former Angolan refugees falling into this category to submit further documents to the Department of Home Affairs in order to attempt to regularise their stay in South Africa and apply for permanent residency.
The LRC represented Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and a number of former Angolan refugees in litigation against the Department of Home Affairs regarding the legal status of former Angolan refugees in South Africa.
In 2013‚ Home Affairs decided that former Angolan refugees no longer needed the protection of the South African government‚ as Angola was considered politically stable. Those Angolans who had been recognised refugees in South Africa were advised to apply for a special type of visa (Angolan Cessation Process Permit) which would allow them to legally work and study in South Africa for another two years‚ while making plans to return to their country.
“Many Angolans have lived in South Africa for close to 20 years. They have created lives for themselves and raised their families in South Africa.
“However‚ the ACP permit was non-renewable. This meant that‚ as these permits expired‚ Angolans that were formerly recognised as refugees were rendered illegal in the country that many of them have called home for close to two decades‚” the LRC said.
Scalabrini Centre tried to assist such Angolans in negotiations with Home Affairs‚ as well as to apply for permanent residency. Scalabrini also applied for a group exemption for these persons in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act.
When these applications did not succeed‚ Scalabrini approached the LRC for assistance in litigating for the rights of Angolans who had previously held ACP Permits.
“After extensive legal and settlement negotiations with the Department‚ the Cape Town High Court issued an order by agreement between the parties. As part of this order‚ all Angolans who have held ACP Permits are now able to submit applications for permanent residence and are exempted from paying the usual application fee.
“These applications must first be submitted to Scalabrini Centre‚ accompanied by certain documents‚ and Scalabrini has undertaken to collate the applications and submit them to the Department of Home Affairs. The deadline for this submission is 20 January 2017.