Bordersmart: Immigration Regulations

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This article discusses some aspects of Zimbabwean immigration law. We discuss other aspects about immigration in detail in the Zimborderguide. The Zimborderguide is the ultimate guide to Travellers, Importers and Exporters interacting across Zimbabwean Borders.

The law

The most important thing is to refer all questions to the legislation. The Immigration Act Chapter 4: 02 and Immigration Regulations Statutory Instrument 195 of 1998. The Immigration Act regulates the entry of persons into the country and their departure. It prohibits the entry into the country and removal of certain persons. It provides for the control of foreign visitors and provides for related matters


All visitors are required to declare in English on an IF1 form to an immigration officer at a port of entry. The officer may require to see applicants and interview them personally. Intending visitors have to satisfy the immigration officer with evidence that they are permanently resident in another country and they cannot be stateless. They also have to prove that they have sufficient means for their upkeep and maintenance of any dependants they may be entering the country with.

They must also satisfy that they have sufficient means for transport fares to leave the country at the end of the visit. They must satisfy that they have the ability to return to their country of permanent residence or another country. There should be no impediment that prevents the person from leaving the country. Visitors on long stays are required to present themselves at immigration offices to present themselves at set periods as specified in given notices.

Employment and studying

Visitors cannot take up employment or enrol as students at educational institutions unless specifically permitted to do so in their visas. Visitors’ visas are ordinarily given for six or 12 months at a time on payment of prescribed fees. Employers and educational institutions have a duty to check for work and study permits.

Permanent residence

Visitors’ visas do not ordinarily exceed 12 months unless specifically endorsed. The chief immigration officer is responsible for issuing permanent residence permits. Permanent residence status may be extended to the applicant’s spouse and dependant minor children.

The applicant’s parents or grandparents may also be given permanent residence status if the applicant proves they are able to maintain them financially. They are also expected to invest substantially in the country without engaging in employment.

They have to have uninterrupted residence in the country for at least five years. Applicants intending to be employed are not precluded from acquiring permanent residence and may get a temporary employment permits.

Permanent residence status or other legal status cannot be given to illegal immigrants simply because they have lived in Zimbabwe for more than five years. Permanent residence may be indefinite or definite. Indefinite permanent residence permits are granted to people, who have met more rigid conditions, such as investing a certain amount of money and contributing substantially to the economy. They must prove that that their stay is beneficial to the country in some real tangible way. Further details are obtainable from the Immigration Department or at the various ports of entry.

Withdrawing permanent residence

Permanent residence can be withdrawn if the person to whom it was granted fails to enter the country within six months after it was given. If the person voluntarily leaves with the intention of settling permanently in another country they lose their permanent residence in Zimbabwe. They also lose it they leave Zimbabwe for longer than six months or a longer period than that specified and authorised by the chief immigration officer. Even if they leave the country they have to return on intervals so as not let the status lapse.

If a residence permit expires or it gets cancelled, the person has to leave the country. They face arrest and a certain inglorious deportation.

For a more in-depth and detailed step by step guidelines on Immigrations and Customs  get yourself a copy of the Zimborderguide


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