African liveability

Calling former Angolan refugees: limited time to apply for permanent residence in SA


The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT) has launched a group exemption application for all former Angolan refugees whose Angolan Cessation Permits (ACP) have expired and are looking to gain permanent residence in South Africa.

Following discussions with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Honourable Justice Gamble of the Western Cape High Court issued an order, outlining a process by which such individuals may apply for permanent residence on special grounds.

Details of agreement

As part of the agreement, the SCCT will collect and collate all individual applications and then submit them to the DHA. Not only will this help lighten the administrative load for the government, but it will also relieve former Angolan refugees of the daunting task of having to approach the DHA themselves.

Although all ACPs expired in October 2015, the police and the DHA have agreed not to arrest, detain or deport any permit-holders until the process has been concluded satisfactorily. Former Angolan refugees are encouraged to carry their ACP, as well as a copy of the court order (click link to download), at all times as proof of their legitimacy in the country.


ACPs were first introduced in 2013, when the Angolan and South African governments, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) came to an agreement that Angolan residents no longer required protection, following the conclusion of the civil war and restoration of political stability to their homeland.

This came in the wake of the UNHCR’s 2012 recommendation that refugee status for Angolans who had fled the war, should cease.

An  agreement was reached between the two SADC governments and the UNHCR, in terms of which, Angolans who were unwilling to return home could apply for an ACP, that would allow them to live, work and study in South Africa for another two years. After this, however, the applicants would be required to legalise their stay under the Immigration Act, since ACPs were not eligible for renewal.

However, since so many Angolan refugees have lived in South Africa for decades, started businesses, attained degrees and added skills to the country’s economy, the SCCT strongly believes that the temporary two-year permits did not constitute a durable solution to end the refugee status of this group.

“These Angolans have been in South Africa, typically, for 18 years and consider this country their home. Many have had children in Cape Town, and these children – some of whom are now eighteen or over – have never set foot in Angola. This community also contributes to the economy of South Africa – our research shows that 1/3 respondents ran a business of their own. For these reasons, amongst others, we have advocated for this group of Angolan former refugees to be granted the right to remain permanently in South Africa – a country they call home,” explains SCCT director, Miranda Madikane.

As the inability  to legalise their stay became apparent, the SCCT began discussions with the DHA in May 2014 to advocate for their continued legal stay based on their strong ties to South Africa.

How the application process works

In order to complete the process successfully, the CCT requires the cooperation of ALL former Angolan refugees with an ACP to submit their applications, police clearance and supporting documents by 20 January 2017.

Since 18 November, the SCCT has been conducting information sessions for all ACP holders to explain the process in detail. However, here’s a brief overview:

  1. ACP permit holders will need to download the court order and Home Affairs Form 47 from this website:
  1. All ACP permit holders need to, before 15 December 2016, go to any police station and apply for a Police Clearance Certificate, attaching the court order to their application.
  1. From 8-15 December and 3-20 January, ACP permit holders can go to the SCCT to submit their completed application, police clearance and other supporting documents. The SCCT will issue receipts to all individuals who complete their applications during that period.
  1. The SCCT will collate all applications and submit them to the DHA for review.
  1. The Minister will send all decisions in writing to the SCCT on 15 May 2017. All applicants can come to the SCCT on 16 May to collect their written refusal or acceptance.

It is the responsibility of the holders of ACP permits to complete the forms and present themselves and the required documentation to the SCCT within the time limit.

Every aspect of the application process (aside from the cost of the Police Clearance Certificate) is COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE and the SCCT is receiving no funds or compensation for assisting the DHA with this administrative process.

Information session dates

Forty minute information sessions on the application process will be conducted on a first-come-first-serve basis for all ACP permit holders at the Scalabrini Centre, 43-47 Commercial Street, Cape Town as per this schedule:

- Thursday, 24 November: 9:00-15:00

- Friday, 25 November: 9:00-15:00

- Saturday, 26 November: 10.00-13.00

- Wednesday, 30 November: 9.00-15.00

- Thursday, 1 December: 12.00-15.00

- Friday, 2 December: 09.00-15.00

- Saturday, 3 December: 10.00-13.00

Angolans with ACP permits residing in other cities may contact partner organisations to submit their applications remotely.

All queries regarding the permanent residence application process can be sent to

 Main image: Scalabrini/Facebook


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