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How to obtain a Permanent Residence Visa in South Africa

There are two forms of visas under South African law: temporary and permanent. A permit is a document granting permanent residency, whereas a visa is a document granting temporary status.

  • Asylum Seeker permit is a temporary permit given pending the decision on the application for Refugee status or for Asylum. It is a permit granted for 6 months and can be renewed for an additional 6 months. This is a Section 22 permit under the Refugees Act 130 of 1998.
  • When the Asylum application is approved, the person will be given a Section 24 permit (known as the Refugee permit) which officially recognises the asylum seeker as a refugee, this permit is valid for 2 years. The permit may be renewed.
  • You can apply for a Permanent Residence permit if you have lived in South Africa for more than 5 years on a Refugees status permit.

For a foreigner who intends to come and reside in South Africa on an indefinite permanent basis, they are well advised to apply for a permanent residence permit. One needs to meet the following requirements to qualify for a Permanent Residence permit, which are as follows:

  1. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence if have been in possession of work visas for at least the past five consecutive years, with a permanent job offer secured in South Africa.
  2. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence If you have been espoused (by marriage or life partnership) to a South African citizen or permanent resident for at least five years.
  3. You qualify to apply for permanent residence if you are a child, under the age of 21, of a citizen or permanent resident.
  4. You qualify to apply for permanent residence if you are a child of any age of a citizen.
  5. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence if you hold a critical skills work visa, as per the Critical Skills List published in the Government Gazette, AND you have accrued at least five years of verifiable post-qualification experience.
  6. You may be eligible to apply for permanent residence based on your intended investment in an existing South African business or if you intend to establish and invest in a South African business.  This investment should be no less than R5 million, or a lesser amount as agreed by the DHA should the business enterprise fall within one of the prescribed National Interest sectors of the South African economy.
  7. You may be eligible to apply for permanent residence on the basis that you have held refugee status in South Africa for at least the past five years.
  8. You may be eligible to apply for permanent residence on the basis of your receipt of pensions or irrevocable annuities for the rest of your life.
  9. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence on the basis that you can demonstrate your net worth to be equivalent to no less than R12 million AND undertake to pay to the DHA a non-refundable once-off fee of R120,000.00 upon the approval of your application.

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