The South African Department of Home Affairs enable the foreign spouses of South Africans to join their husband or wife in South Africa by means of a spousal visa. This is not to be confused with an accompanying spouse visa! These are two separate visas with two different purposes.
But if it is a spousal visa you have to apply for, continue reading for a detailed look at the requirements and the application process.
What is a spousal visa for South Africa?
As explained above, the spousal visa is a visa that enables foreigners to join their South African husband or wife in South Africa. This is a temporary visa and it falls under the relatives section of South Africa’s Immigration Act.
What is the difference between a spousal visa and spousal permit?
Simply put, the term ‘visa’ refers to temporary residency and the term ‘permit’ refers to permanent residency.
A spousal visa for South Africa is issued for 2 to 3 years at a time and can be applied for as soon as you are married. A spousal permit for South Africa can be applied for once you and your spouse have been married for 5 years. Upon approval of your permit, you’ll receive permanent residence.
As a permanent resident, your residence status in South Africa is indefinite. With that said, you have to continue to meet certain criteria to maintain your permanent residency.
What comes first – The marriage or visa?
We’re often asked whether the visa or the marriage comes first. The main requirement for a spousal visa is proof of a civil marriage union shown by means of a marriage certificate. Therefore, the visa application comes after marriage.
If you are considering an alternative visa option for your foreign partner prior to marriage, there is a life partner visa that can be applied for. As a couple, you’d need to prove to the authorities that you have been in a relationship for a minimum of two years. There are two essential types of evidence the authorities would like to see:
- Proof of joint cohabitation; and
- Proof of shared financial responsibility.
Further to this, many couples enquire about the process of getting married in South Africa with the intention of applying for a spousal visa thereafter. You can click here for further insight and information in this regard.
What are the South African spousal visa requirements?
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) wants to see that your marriage is legitimate. This is their main concern.
How do you prove your marriage is legitimate? The DHA asks for a valid marriage certificate proving a civil marriage union. It does not have to be a South African marriage certificate. It can be a marriage certificate from anywhere around the world provided it is registered with the relevant government authorities as a civil union.
The rest of the requirements we’ll be happy to discuss with you once a decision has been made to apply for a spousal visa.
Can I submit my spousal visa application from within South Africa?
In July 2019, the DHA issued a directive that makes provision for spouses, life partners and children of South African citizens or permanent residents to make application within the country.
This was a significant improvement in our country’s immigration processes! It keeps family units together without the need to return to one’s home country to lodge an application.
With the above in mind, a spousal visa for South Africa can indeed be submitted within the Republic when your spouse is on a visitors visa.
Can my spouse conduct an activity while in South Africa?
It’s a ‘yes’. 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: This requires a job offer when making application.
- Business endorsement: Proof of a registered business in South Africa is needed. Alternatively, you can operate as a sole proprietor.
- Study endorsement: Requires that you demonstrate that you have been provisionally accepted into an education institution within South Africa.
You can read more about endorsements here.
How long does it take to be processed?
When you submit your spousal visa application within South Africa, you can expect to wait 8 to 12 weeks 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 2 to 3 years to process permanent residency application.
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!
What happens if the marriage ends?
A spousal visa for South Africa is granted based on the fact that a valid marriage exists between yourself and your foreign partner. Thus, the visa is subject to the marriage surviving.
In the eyes of Home Affairs, when the marriage ends, the visa is deemed null and void.
Please note that the same is true if the marriage ends within the first two years of receiving permanent residency. There is a condition to one’s permanent residency status. The condition is 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
If you can’t wait to bring your spouse to South Africa, get the ball rolling straight away.
The first step is doing an immigration assessment. Ours takes only a couple of minutes, is free of charge and you can do it here.
Our consultants will contact you and your spouse to discuss the eligibility and the requirements.