When Can I Apply for South African Permanent Residency?

south african permanent residencyAs a permanent resident in South Africa, you have a lot more freedom than a temporary resident. You can work, study or start a business without the need for special visas or endorsements.

That’s why so many foreigners want to apply for South African permanent residency as soon as possible.

However, it’s always either required or advisable to apply for temporary residency first.

From temporary visa to permanent permit

Each visa category is different when it comes to when you can apply for permanent residency. We break it down for you below. To see what the eligibility criteria for each visa is, you can have a look at the different categories on our website.

Spousal category

An application for permanent residency can be made under the spousal category if or when you and your partner have been married for 5 years.

Life partner category

You and your partner must have been in a permanent relationship for 5 years before an application for permanent residency can be made under the life partner category.

Relatives category

The most important criteria to take note of under the relatives category is that only first-kin family members may apply for permanent residency.

Then it becomes a little complicated. Whether you can apply for permanent residency immediately may depend on whether you make the application from within South Africa or not. For clarification, please feel free speak to one of our consultants.

Critical skills category

Once you have held your critical skills work visa for 5 consecutive years, you can apply for South African permanent residency.

Here’s some good news though – there is a way for you to make an immediate application for permanent residency under the critical skills category. If you have 5 years’ work experience in your occupation at the time of making an application, you may apply for permanent residency straight away.

General work category

Once you have held temporary residency on your general work visa for 5 consecutive years, you may apply for permanent residency.

Intra-company transfer work category

No application can be made for permanent residency purely as a result of holding an intra-company transfer work visa.

However, applications for permanent residency can be made if you have held a work visa for 5 years and the period you have held an intra-company work visa for counts towards this time period.

Therefore if you have previously held, or subsequently hold, another type of work visa for 12 months or more, this combined with 4 years on an Intra-company work visa would allow for a permanent residency application.

Corporate workers category

You are working under this category if you hold an individual corporate workers visa. Your employer will hold a corporate visa.

As with the intra-company transfer work visa, the corporate workers visa on its own does not lead to permanent residency.

However, when a corporate workers visa is used in combination with a general work visa, also in the same manner as the intra-company transfer work visa, an application for permanent residency can be made.

Business category

You can make an application for permanent residency under the business category as soon as you receive your temporary residency.

Retired category

Permanent residency applications under the retired category can be made immediately, provided you meet the financial requirements. With that said, most foreigners apply for both temporary and permanent residency at the same time, as the wait for an outcome on permanent residency can take as long as 24 months.

Always apply well in advance!

As mentioned in the retired category, processing times for permanent residency are lengthy! It’s always a good idea to start preparing for an application as soon as you are eligible.

Keep in mind that you will most likely still have to renew your temporary visa in order to continue your stay in South Africa until an outcome is reached on your application for permanent residency.

If you need help with an application for South African permanent residency, do not hesitate to contact us. You don’t even have to call us. By requesting a call back, one of our immigration consultants will contact you – and do so within 24 hours.

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