Applying for a South African Spousal Permit

Applying for a South African Spousal Permit

When applying for a South African spousal permit, i.e. an application for permanent residence as the spouse of a South African, the Department of Home Affairs will assess your eligibility against the length of your marriage.

There are various other factors that you also need to take into account:

The status of the South African spouse

The South African spouse will need to either be a:

  • South African Citizen; or
  • South African Permanent Residence holder.

This may seem straight forward, but complications can arise when the South African has obtained another nationality. That’s because their citizenship status might be at risk if this process was done incorrectly.

To check the citizenship status of the South African partner, one can perform a citizenship check.

There is no need to panic if the South African no longer has citizenship status! Their status in South Africa will revert to permanent residency and the spousal permit application can be made on this basis.

What if you’re not married?

Where you are not married but in a permanent relationship you might qualify for a Life Partner Visa or Life Partner Permit.

Does it matter how long you’ve been married for?

To apply for a spousal permit, you’ll have to demonstrate that you and your South African partner have been married for more than 5 years. This can be done by submitting your marriage certificate.

Not married for 5 years?

Couple who have not been married for 5 years must apply for a spouse visa that grants temporary residency to the foreign national spouse.

How long will a spousal permit application take?

Applying for a spousal permit can be a lengthy process. Whilst the Department of Home Affairs may indicate certain turnaround times, the Department often suffers major backlogs. It is thus impossible to guarantee a specific turnaround time.

Applications can take as much as 2 years but a good amount do get issued before this time frame.

What if we are in a hurry?

It is often the case that couples are unable to plan 2 years in advance to submit a Spousal Permit application in ample time. The need to obtain a permit before then can be achieved by also submitting a Spouse Visa application. The Spousal Visa is a temporary visa that will allow you to enter and stay in South Africa, which along with an endorsement will permit you to work, study or run a business.

Where should we submit our application?

Different scenarios will dictate where you submit your application.

  • If you are outside of South Africa and do not hold a current spouse visa – here you have the option of submitting the application to your local South African Mission as well in South Africa. Although you can submit your application in South Africa, it is more practical to submit in your home country due to how long it could take to receive your permit when submitting in South Africa.
  • If you are inside South Africa and currently hold a spousal visa -you should make your application for a spousal permit here in SA.
  • If you are inside South Africa and hold neither a spouse visa nor any other type of visa (other than tourist) – you should apply first for your spousal visa abroad before submitting your application for a spousal permit in South Africa.

Getting help with your visa or permit application

Intergate Immigration has been assisting South Africans and their families with their return to South Africa since 2006.

We welcome the opportunity to consult with you as to your eligibility for a visa /permit and answer any questions you may have with no obligation.

You can take our free one minute assessment here or request a call back for more information. Or simply call us at +27 (0)21 424 2460.

Alternatively you can fill out the below online enquiry form to contact us.


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