COVID-19: Fraudsters Target Foreigners With Fake Permit Renewals

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By Idah Mhetu

THE government has informed foreigners with expired residence, study and work permits that their papers have been automatically renewed during the lockdown period.

In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the affected foreigners not to fall prey to some fraudsters who were targeting and purporting to be extending their stay in Zimbabwe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week announced a 21 day national lockdown to manage the spread of coronavirus in the country.

However, the Home Affairs Ministry advised foreigners that their papers would be renewed automatically according to Statutory Instrument (SI) 83 of 2020 during the national lockdown period.

“The net effect of SI 83 of 2020 was that it automatically renewed the immigration status of all foreign nationals whose status became invalid consequent to the lockdown, that is diplomatic status, time restricted residence permits, temporary employment permits, scholar’s permits, student’s permits, temporary permits, visas and visitor’s entry certificates,” reads the statement.

The ministry said the Department of Immigration had discovered that there were some fraudsters illegally renewing permits and visas for foreigners with expired papers.

“It has come to the attention of the Department of Immigration and the Ministry at large, that there are individuals who are initiating unauthorised processes to renew visas and various other permits on behalf of foreign nationals whose permits have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown measures, appearing as if this has been sanctioned by the Department.

“Accordingly, the individuals carrying out this exercise, purportedly on behalf of the Immigration Department are doing so for their own selfish gains and designs. No-one should pay any fee to any individual misrepresenting to be providing these services on behalf of the Immigration Department. This is a government service which does not require any facilitation from any third parties.

“The Department of Immigration has not tasked these persons or any individuals for that matter to carry out the exercise of extending the stay of persons, especially foreign nationals who have been affected by the lockdown measures which government recently instituted to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Home Affairs Ministry said.