Workpermit.com special report - Zimbabwe
01 February 2001
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While news reports indicate that the violence in Zimbabwe has calmed down and has moved to isolated trouble spots over the past few weeks, many people in Zimbabwe feel that their future now lies abroad. This feeling is not only prevalent among the white farming community with links to the old Rhodesia, but is true of a wide cross section of the population. When farms are being occupied, farm workers are also affected. In the wider community, opponents of the ruling Zanu PF party may feel that they are in danger, and may be fearful of the repercussions which may come from another Mugabe election victory. In the past 12 months, foreign journalists have been expelled, priests have been expelled, and Zimbabwean homosexuals have continued to face violent attacks, as well as a fear of arrest. There is fear that the rule of law has broken down. There is little doubt that the economic environment in which to establish or run a business is deteriorating, and the value of the Zimbabwean dollar is not strong. This situation could get worse if the Commonwealth agree on sanctions.
Emigrating from Zimbabwe?
There are a number of options for Zimbabwean national who are seeking to move overseas. Often, the best destination for them to look at is the UK and there are a number of different categories which may apply.
1) Working holidaymaker visas
These visas are issued to Commonwealth nationals between the ages of 17 and 28, to allow them to come to the UK for a period of two years. During this time, they are permitted to take up casual employment for 50 per cent of the time - either full time for 1 year, or part time for the duration. This visa can only be issued once, and cannot be extended. However, many Commonwealth nationals come to the UK under this scheme, find permanent jobs in the UK, and switch to full work permits.
2) Ancestry visas
This is a great option for all those with British Ancestry in the form of a grandparent who was born in the UK. These can either be applied for at the British High Commission in Harare, or at the Home Office in the UK if the applicant is already in the UK on a visit. These applications can be refused if all the necessary documentation is not available, so ensure that you have all relevant birth certificates, marriage certificates, and ideally an accommodation address and some savings (£1000 should be ok).
3) work permits
This is a bit more of a hassle than the other categories, as it requires a job offer in the UK. However, if you find a job over the internet, or while you are in the UK as a visitor, an application can be quite straight forward, proving the job is skilled or in shortage. Most of workpermit.com's clients are in the IT industry, so there is lots of info on this site for skilled IT professionals. However, there is also a massive shortage of nurses, doctors, and teachers, as well as vets, pharmacists, and a whole host of other industries. If you do not fit into any of the other categories, please contact workpermit.com and we will be happy to assess your cv to see if you would fit the criteria.
4) 'permit free' employment
This description could apply to you if you are a writer or composer, a journalist, a minister of religion, a lawyer, or wish to establish a business. Again, you should contact workpermit.com for an assessment if you think this applies to you.
workpermit.com cannot advise on asylum applications, and we would recommend that asylum is the last resort, as your stay will be severely restricted, and you would not be able to work for the first 6 months of your stay. It is not clear at the moment what the UK stance on asylum claims from Zimbabwe are, but if you feel that you are being persecuted because of your ethnic group, political opinions or sexual orientation, this may be an option. Contact the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants for further information.
All of these categories can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain, and possibly a UK passport, other than the working holidaymaker visa. workpermit.com will be able to advise you of this.
Traveling to Zimbabwe
workpermit.com do not deal with work permits or immigration issues for people traveling to Zimbabwe. Please contact the Zimbabwe High Commission for details. We recommend that you read the Foreign Office travel advice before traveling.