For Immediate Release: 21 November 2016
Last week, on 17 November 2016, a settlement was reached in a year-long case regarding former Angolan refugees still living in South Africa on expired Angolan Cessation Permits.
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 Legal Resources Centre (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’s client, Scalabrini Centre Cape Town, 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.
Scalabrini has more information for any former Angolan refugee who had been issued with an ACP Permit and would like to apply for residency here.