How to become a resident of South Africa

how to become a resident of south africaIf you’re reading this, it means you want to know how to become a resident of South Africa. Who can blame you? South Africa’s natural beauty is beyond compare, our private healthcare is exceptional, and we’re the third most inclusive country in the world!

Let’s get straight into it then, shall we? The starting point to becoming a South African resident is asking yourself two key questions:

1. What do I want to do once I’m in South Africa?

Do you want to work for an employer or work in your own business? Or do you want to join your spouse or life partner? Perhaps you want to study or retire?

Knowing what you want to do is important because it determines the immigration requirements you’ll have to be able to meet.

For instance, to work in South Africa, you must either have a job offer or a critical skill. To study, you must have an acceptance letter from an approved learning institution. If you want to retire in South Africa, you’ll have to be able to prove that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your stay in the country.

2. Do I want temporary or permanent residency?

South Africa offers both temporary and permanent residency to foreign nationals. The requirements for permanent residency are not the same as for temporary residency however.

For instance, if you want to apply for permanent residency on a spousal visa, you must have been married for 5 years or longer. Another example is permanent residency on the relatives visa – both first and second kin relatives are eligible for temporary residency, but only first-kin relatives may apply for permanent residency.

If it is permanent residency you seek, you must be aware of two things:

  1. Permanent residency applications can take up to two years to finalise. Naturally this will massively impact your planning and personal timelines.
  2. Even more important – we are anxiously awaiting draft legislation around permanent residency becoming official. The original date for this to happen was February. The draft legislation, as proposed in the 2017 White Paper, proposed that permanent residency is replaced with a long-term residence visa. Based on past events, it is likely that the draft legislation will only be signed into law after President Cyril Ramaphosa has reshuffled his cabinet and appointed new ministers.

The next steps

Once you know what you want to do, and thus the criteria you’ll be required to meet, you would’ve uncovered the most crucial steps for you to become a resident of South Africa.

Before we continue, let’s clarify that the examples above are just the main requirements for each of the visas discussed. Our advice is to read further on our website if you want to explore South Africa’s visa options in more detail:

The step we suggest you take next is an eligibility assessment done by an experienced immigration consultant. By doing so, you’ll know for certain if you meet all of the requirements for your intended activity in South Africa and thus are eligible to become a resident of our vibrant country.

If your assessment has a positive outcome, you’ll be able to proceed with your visa or permit application. This when the real work starts! It’s during this stage that you’ll gather all documents and supporting evidence to submit with your application.

After submission, all you can do is wait. Remember that permanent residency applications can take up to two years, so waiting is unfortunately also part of becoming a resident of South Africa!

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