Answer to a question from a reader

What does a ZEP holder need to claim UIF?

The short answer

To apply for UIF as a foreign national, you need your passport and completed forms U1-28 and U1-19.

The long answer

UIF Commissioner Maruping said in 2020 all workers who have paid UIF, including properly documented foreign workers, will be paid their UIF benefits if they are dismissed, or their contract has ended. (UIF is not paid when a worker resigns or is suspended.) Maruping also said that payments to foreign workers have taken longer because of the more complex processes used to capture their information.

Maruping said that in general, UIF uses the ID number to capture information and process payment. But in the case of foreign workers, passport numbers are used and those have to be verified the Department of Home Affairs, and at times with the South African Revenue Services. He went on to say that with such processes involved, some delays are likely, but that UIF was committed to paying everyone as quickly as possible. He emphasised that foreign workers should be legally in the country, properly documented and declared by their employers.

The documents needed to apply for UIF are your passport, form U1-28 for banking details, form U1-19 to show you are no longer working for your employer and proof of registration as a work-seeker.

The first step is going to a Labour Centre to sign an unemployment register. You are then required to return every four weeks to sign the registry again and show that you still need unemployment benefits. The relevant forms are available directly from the department’s offices, or you can download them from You will also be given a white card by a UIF officer.

For further information, you can reach the UIF on the toll-free number 0800 030 007.

Previously, before the Helen Suzman Foundation successfully challenged the termination of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in 2023, there was some concern that ZEP holders might lose out on their UIF benefits because a person has to sign the unemployment register every four weeks to show that they are still unemployed and need UIF. 

But the Pretoria High Court found that the termination of the ZEP was unconstitutional and invalid, and the Minister of Home Affairs was ordered to “reconsider the termination of the programme following a fair, consultative and lawful process”, within the twelve months following the court order. 

And while that process was taking place, the ZEP permits remained valid until June 2024, and the ZEP holders were protected from arrest and deportation.

The Minister then tried to get an appeal against the judgement from the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in February 2024, but the SCA turned it down. The Minister is now pursuing an appeal to the Constitutional Court, but there is no outcome yet.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 27, 2024, 12:16 p.m.

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