FAQ: South African spousal visa

spousal visa south africaDo you and your South African spouse want to settle in sunny SA? Then this article about the South African spousal visa is for you!

Continue reading for a detailed look at the spousal visa’s requirements and the application process.

1. What is a spousal visa for South Africa?

A spousal visa is a visa that enables foreign nationals to live with their South African husband or wife in South Africa. 

It is also a temporary visa, and it falls under the relatives’ section of South Africa’s Immigration Act.

The spousal visa is not to be confused with the accompanying spouse visa. This visa is for foreign national couples where one partner holds a work visa.

2. For how long is a spousal visa valid?

Home Affairs issue spousal visas for two to three years at a time. You can apply for a spousal visa as soon as you’re married. Once you’ve been married for five years, you can apply for permanent residency.

You may also apply for permanent residency right away if you’ve already been married for five years at the time of your application.

As a permanent resident, your residence status in South Africa is indefinite. With that said, you have to continue to meet some criteria to maintain PR.

3. What comes first – The marriage or visa?

Clients often ask us whether the visa or the marriage comes first. The main requirement for a spousal visa is proof of a civil marriage union shown using a marriage certificate.

Therefore, the visa application comes after marriage.

No marriage plans yet?

You can apply for a South African life partner visa if you and your partner aren’t married yet or don’t have immediate plans to marry.

To apply for a life partner visa, you’ll have to prove to Home Affairs that you’ve been in a relationship for at least two years. You’ll have to submit evidence in the form of proof of joint cohabitation and shared financial responsibility.

It is best, though, to discuss your situation with an immigration expert so that you can get clarity about the best visa route for you as a couple.

4. What are the South African spousal visa requirements?

As mentioned above, Home Affairs wants to see that your marriage is a legitimate civil union and requires a valid marriage certificate as proof. 

It doesn’t have to be a South African marriage certificate. Home Affairs accept marriage certificates from anywhere around the world – as long as the marriage is registered with the relevant government authorities.

You can discuss the rest of the requirements with one of our immigration consultants.

5. Can you submit your spousal visa application from within South Africa?

Yes, you may apply for a spousal visa from within South Africa. Home Affairs made it possible for spouses to change from visitor’s visas to spousal visas in 2019

6. Can you work on a spousal visa in South Africa?

Yes, you can. The spousal visa for South Africa is very flexible! It allows you to work, study or start a business while living in South Africa. However, you would have to add an endorsement to the visa.

There are three options available in terms of endorsements:

  • Work endorsement: You’ll need a job offer
  • Business endorsement: You must have proof of a registered business in South Africa. Alternatively, you can operate as a sole proprietor.
  • Study endorsement: You must demonstrate that you have provisional acceptance into an educational institution within South Africa.

You can read more about endorsements on our blog.

7. How long does Home Affairs take to process spousal visas?

When you submit your spousal visa application within South Africa, you can expect an 8 to 12 weeks wait for an outcome. If you submit your application abroad, you’ll only have to wait 4 to 6 weeks because the Embassies have lower volumes of applications.

When it comes to permanent residency, the wait is much longer! It pains us to say that the Department of Home Affairs currently takes around two to four years to process PR applications.

It’s important to note that you must keep your temporary residency visa valid at all times while you’re waiting on the outcome of your permanent residence.

8. What happens if the marriage ends?

Home Affairs grants spousal visas based on the fact that a valid marriage exists. Your marriage must thus continue to stay legal and valid for you to retain your spousal visa.

In the eyes of Home Affairs, when the marriage ends, the visa is deemed null and void.

The same is true if the marriage ends within the first two years of receiving permanent residency. There is a condition to your PR status that you have to prove that a good-faith marriage still exists two years from the date of issuance.

Get started with an application for a spousal visa for South Africa

Get the ball rolling straight away if you can’t wait to join your spouse in South Africa!

The first step is doing an immigration assessment. Ours takes only a couple of minutes, is free of charge, and you can do it online.

Once we’ve received your details, one of our consultants will contact you to discuss your eligibility and the best way forward.