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Zambia: Changes to Immigration Rules

Latest update on Zambia changes to immigration rules

From May 2017 the Zambian Department of Immigration (DOI) issued revised guidelines covering foreign nationals seeking employment permits. The new stricter guidelines are in continuance of the county’s Zambianization policy to increase local worker employment while still allowing companies access to foreign talent.

Applicable to employment permits valid longer than six months, the new guidelines are a significant departure from past practice. Included in the changes are the following:

Applications – Applications for employment permits must be submitted in-country to the DOI in Lusaka prior to the foreign national arriving in Zambia.

Employment Permit Validity – Permits will no longer be valid for a standard two-year period. Instead, the length of the permit will be determined by the DOI on a case-by-case basis. Sponsoring companies must specify in the application the length of intended employment in Zambia for the foreign employee, and the DOI will then rule on the maximum length for which the permit will be issued. Points to be considered by the DOI are the industry in question, size and stage of the company’s development, and the shortage of the worker’s skills.

Recruitment Efforts and Job Advertisement – Sponsoring companies must provide a summary showing evidence of local recruitment efforts. The requirement is to include two advertisements of the open position in leading Zambian newspapers.
Subcontractors – Companies that subcontract with foreign companies must provide information on their organisational structure and number of local and foreign workers employed by the subcontractor.

Zambianization Plan – Sponsoring companies will be required to submit a “succession plan” providing the names of local employees and a plan to train them to eventually replace the foreign worker.

Quarterly Labor Audits – The DOI’s Immigration Permits Committee (IPC) will conduct quarterly audits to verify the number of local and foreign workers employed by companies at any given time.

Required Documents – In addition to the above, the revised guidelines now contain a more extensive list of required documents to be submitted along with employment permit applications.

The Zambian Home Affairs Minister had called a suspension of issuing employment permits to foreign nationals in February of this year, citing abuse on the current system. The suspension – reportedly to give officials time to implement the new revised guidelines – has now been lifted.

More information

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Immigration team at or call +44(0)20 8836 3359.

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