We can help with a range of South African visas,
extensions and citizenship applications.
If you have relatives in South Africa, you may be able to join them under a relative’s visa. There are two types of relative’s documents: the relatives visa and the relatives permit. Which one you receive depends on your circumstances.
Difference between relative’s visa and relative’s permit
The relative’s visa (temporary residence) will not allow you to work in South Africa. It allows you only to live in South Africa for a maximum of two years.
The relative’s permit (permanent residence) allows you to work, study and live in South Africa as a permanent resident.
Who can apply for a South African relative’s visa or permit?
You can apply for the relative’s visa if you are the parent, child, spouse or sibling of a South African citizen or permanent resident.
Relative’s permits, which give you permanent residence, are only generally given to spouses, children and parents.
Relative’s permit/visa requirements
- You must be sponsored by your relative who is a South African citizen/permanent resident
- You must be able to prove your relationship
- Your relative must be able to prove that they can support you financially
Which relative’s visa/permit should I apply for?
There are many categories that fall under the relative’s visa or permit. Here’s a quick reference to see which visa or permit you may qualify for:
|Relationship to South African citizen or permanent resident||Applicable visa or permit|
|Parent||Relative's visa or permit|
|Sibling||Relative's visa or permit|
|Married (less than five years)||Spouse visa|
|Married (five years or more)||Spouse permit|
|Permanent relationship (less than two years)||Life partner visa|
|Permanent relationship (two years or more)||Life partner visa|
|Permanent relationship (five years or more)||Life partner permit|
Spouse visa and spouse permit
The South African spouse visa or permit falls under the category of a relative’s visa. If you are in a committed relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident, you may qualify for a spouse visa valid for two years.
If you’ve been in a relationship with a South African citizen for five years or more, you may qualify for permanent residency.
Spouse visa requirements
To qualify for the spouse visa, you will need to prove your relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident either through a marriage certificate or notarial agreement.
Renewal of spousal visa
You will need to apply for a new spousal visa at least 60 days before your current one expires. The spousal visa is valid for two years.
Life partner visa and life partner permit
The life partner visa or permit falls under the category of a relative’s visa and carries similar requirements to the spouse visa. Whether you apply for the spousal visa or the life partner visa depends on your relationship circumstances.
What if I get divorced or break up with my partner?
If your relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident ends, you will unfortunately no longer qualify for a spouse visa/permit or life partner visa/permit.
Retired person’s visa or permit
The South African retired person’s visa/permit allows you to immigrate to South Africa and live in the country while you are retired. You cannot work or study on this visa and must meet the minimum income requirement.
You can apply for either a temporary or permanent retired person’s visa depending on your financial situation.
Retired person’s visa requirements
There are no age restrictions on the retired person’s visa. The main requirement is a financial one, but only certain types of income are allowed. Speak to us if you’re unsure whether you qualify.
To qualify for a retired person’s visa (temporary residency), you will need to show proof that you have R37,000 per month available to you, per applicant. This can be in cash or income from assets.
You can also show that you have a cash lump sum available of R37,000 per month for the duration of the retired person’s visa. That works out to R1,776,000 for a four-year visa.
A permanent residency retired person’s permit application is similar to a temporary residency one. The one difference between the two is that for permanent residency, the financial requirement cannot be a cash lump sum. It will need to be in the
form of guaranteed life-long income.
We advise that you apply for both the temporary retired person’s visa and the permanent retired person’s permit at the same time.
Renewal of retired person’s visa
Retired person’s visas (temporary residence) are valid for four years. You will need to renew your retired person’s visa before the expiration of your current visa.
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Temporary resident visa
If you’re immigrating to South Africa, the first visa you’ll be granted is usually a temporary resident visa. This visa grants you temporary residence in South Africa. There are multiple types of temporary resident visas, falling under the
categories of work, study, retired persons, spouse, life partner and relative.
What you are allowed to do on your visa is linked to your visa type. For example, a study visa will allow you to study in South Africa, but a visitor’s visa will not.
In many cases, application for a temporary resident visa is done alongside application for permanent residence in South Africa. Processing times for permanent residence are significantly longer than temporary residence.
What is a temporary resident permit?
A temporary resident permit is the same as a temporary resident visa. It allows the holder to reside in South Africa in accordance with the conditions attached to their visa.
Permanent residency in South Africa
Permanent residency allows you to live indefinitely in South Africa. Permanent residents can live, work, study and conduct business in the country and it never expires, provided you enter South Africa once every three years. There are no minimum stay requirements.
How to get permanent residency in South Africa
In many cases, you can apply for permanent residency immediately alongside your temporary resident visa. You may also apply if you are currently holding temporary residency for a qualifying amount of time.
Immediate application for permanent residency
There are some visa categories under which you can apply for permanent residency immediately, or alongside your temporary resident application. These include:
- Relative’s visa – under the parent or child category
- Partner visa – under the spousal visa or life partner visa category
- Retired person’s visa – only in the case of guaranteed life-long income
- Financially independent permit – applicant must have a net worth of R12 million
Application for permanent residency after holding temporary residency
The following categories require you to have spent a qualifying amount of time in South Africa under a temporary resident visa before you can apply for permanent residency:
- Work visa – five consecutive years of temporary residency under certain categories (general work permit, corporate work permit, exceptional work permit, critical skills visa, quota work permit)
- Business visa – no specific time period requirement
South African permanent residency benefits
Many restrictions of temporary residency fall away once you hold permanent residency in South Africa. You can live, work and study in South Africa freely when you hold permanent residency.
Benefits of permanent residency include:
- Permanent residency never expires as long as you enter South Africa once every three years
- You can switch employers, set up a business and study without restriction
- You no longer have to deal with visa extensions and renewals
- Your family can also apply for permanent residency
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Citizenship in South Africa
There are three different routes to acquire South African citizenship:
Citizenship by birth
If one of your parents was a South African citizen or permanent resident at the time of your birth in South Africa, and your birth was registered within 30 days, you automatically qualify for South African citizenship. You also qualify for South African citizenship by birth if you were born in South Africa and adopted by a South African citizen.
Citizenship by descent
If you were born outside South Africa to a South African citizen, or you were adopted by a South African citizen, you can apply for citizenship by descent.
Citizenship by naturalisation
The path to South African citizenship by naturalisation generally involves applying for temporary residence, applying for permanent residence and spending a qualifying period of time in South Africa.
The requirements may differ according to your category of visa, although a general requirement is that you’ve spend five years in South Africa holding permanent residence. Other requirements include:
- You must be of good character
- You must be fluent in one of South Africa’s official languages
- You must have knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of a South African citizen
South African citizenship through marriage
You can apply for citizenship through marriage if you have held South African permanent residence for at least five years and you are married to a South African citizen. This is also applicable under the life partner permit category.
Does South Africa allow dual citizenship?
South Africa does allow dual citizenship. You will need to apply to retain your South African nationality before gaining a second nationality. Many countries do not allow dual citizenship – you will need to check your country’s stance before you gain South African citizenship.
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South African visa extensions and renewals
Most South African visas can be extended or renewed. Applications for a visa extension or renewal should be made at least 60 days before the current visa expires.
The process for a visa renewal is often very similar to the first time you apply, but this depends on which visa you hold.