Visas, permits, residence


Types of immigration & how to apply

Please note: if you are applying for immigration to South Africa, it is not up to you to place yourself in a specific immigration category. This is an administrative function performed by officials of the Department of Home Affairs, taking into account your background and other relevant information. 1. Workers
  • Applicants normally fall within the age group of 18 to 51.
  • You must be in possession of a permanent offer of employment made by a South African registered company.
  • The position offered must be commensurate with your qualifications and experience.
  • Your prospective employer must motivate why a South African citizen or permanent resident cannot fill or be trained to fill the position.
  • Your prospective employer must submit proof - for example, press clippings of advertisements placed over a period of at least one month in national newspapers - that the post has been advertised and that no suitable South African has applied, unless it is obvious that a South African would be unsuitable for the post (for example, a key managerial post in the South African branch of an international firm).
  • If professionally qualified, you must register with the appropriate South African bodies.
  • A non-refundable application fee is payable, and you must apply abroad.
2. Family reunion scheme If you are economically active but unable to submit a firm offer of employment, you may apply for permanent residence if family members - specifically, parents, brothers or sisters - who are South African citizens or permanent residents undertake to assist you and your family financially for as long as you are in South Africa or until you become economically active. A non-refundable application fee is payable, and you must apply abroad. 3. Spouses & children Being married to a South African citizen or permanent resident does not automatically guarantee you permanent residence status. If you are married to a South African citizen or a permanent resident and wish to immigrate to South Africa, you will first be considered as a prospective immigrant in your own right, especially if you are professionally qualified. Only if you do not qualify for immigration under another category will you be considered under the category of spouse. In this case, you will have to submit proof of marriage and of your spouse's financial ability to support you and, if applicable, any dependent children in South Africa. There is no application fee, and you can apply abroad or within South Africa. If you opt for the latter, then you must enter South Africa on a visitor's visa, for which you should apply at your nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad. For this you will need an affidavit "to join spouse", completed and signed by your husband/wife. On arrival in South Africa, your visa will be replaced with a temporary residence permit valid for one year. You should apply for permanent residence before this expires - or for an extension to your temporary residence permit, if your permanent residence is not finalised in time. See Visiting South Africa.
  • Access/download the affidavit "to join spouse", and a permit extension application form if necessary, online (PDF file requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader, automatic free download): Select the appropriate form here.
4. FiancÚ(e)s If you are engaged to a South African citizen or permanent resident and wish to apply for immigration to South Africa, you will first be considered as a prospective immigrant in your own right, especially if you are professionally qualified. Only if you do not qualify for immigration under another category will you be considered under the category of fiancÚ(e). You should apply for immigration abroad. If you choose not to join your South African fiancÚ(e) and to await the outcome of your application abroad, you will have to deposit a refundable immigration fee. If, on the other hand, you choose to join your fiancÚ(e) and to await the outcome of your application in South Africa, you will have to deposit a refundable repatriation fee. In either case, the fee will be refunded on presentation - at the relevant South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad, or at your nearest Home Affairs office in South Africa - of a marriage certificate and the original receipt. If you choose to join your fiancÚ(e) and to await the outcome of your application in South Africa, you must enter South Africa on a visitor's visa, for which you should apply at your nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad. For this you will need an affidavit completed and signed by your fiancÚ(e) undertaking to get married within three months. On arrival in South Africa, your visa will be replaced with a temporary residence permit valid for one year. You should apply for permanent residence before this expires - or for an extension to your temporary residence permit, if your permanent residence is not finalised in time. See Visiting South Africa. 5. Sponsored persons If you are destitute, aged or infirm and wish to immigrate to South Africa, a blood family member who is permanently and lawfully resident in South Africa may sponsor you, provided he or she is financially able to support you. To qualify, you must be physically unable to fend for yourself, such that you need to be taken in as a dependent, and you may not have dependents that would need sponsorship too. If, however, you are financially self-supporting, then you must apply for immigration in your own right, for example as a retired person. There is no application fee for sponsored persons, and you can apply abroad or within South Africa. If you opt for the latter, then you must enter South Africa on a visitor's visa, for which you should apply at your nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad. For this you will need an affidavit completed and signed by your sponsor. On arrival in South Africa, your visa will be replaced with a temporary residence permit valid for one year. You should apply for permanent residence before this expires, and if your application is not finalised in time, should apply for an extension to your temporary residence permit. 6. Retired persons If you are retired and financially self-supporting and wish to apply for immigration to South Africa in your own right, you must submit documentary proof of your financial assets readily transferable to South Africa. The extent of the transferable amount, and/or the assurance of a sufficient continued income from abroad, will be taken into account in considering your application. A non-refundable application fee is payable, and you must apply abroad. 7. Financially independent persons If you are financially independent and wish to apply for immigration to South Africa under this category, you will have to transfer an amount of at least R1 500 000 to South Africa, of which at least R700 000 must be invested in the South African economy for a period of three years - as a deposit with a financial institution or by any other means, such as the acquisition of immovable property. After three years you will have to prove that this requirement has been met, failing which your immigration permit may be withdrawn. You will also be required to refrain from engaging in employment or establishing your own business without the approval of the Department of Home Affairs, and to notify the Department of any change of address during the three-year period. A non-refundable application fee is payable, and you must apply abroad. 8. Own business If you wish to establish your own business in South Africa, you will have to provide sufficient funds to support yourself and your family, and to transfer a minimum amount - determined by the Immigrants Selection Board - in order to set up your business. You will also, 12 months after establishing your business, be required to submit the following documentation to the Department of Home Affairs:
  • Audited financial statements in order for the viability of the business to be assessed;
  • Evidence that at least two South African citizens or permanent residents, excluding members of your family, have been employed and are still in service; and
  • Evidence that the amount determined by the Immigrants Selection Board has been used for the intended purposes.
9. Own business in partnership or co-operation If you enter into business with others, or to continue with an established business - such as a proprietary limited or limited company, as well as close corporations or partnerships - you will, 12 months after entering the venture, have to submit evidence to the Department of Home Affairs that your involvement has resulted in a substantial contribution to the South African economy or the full-time employment of at least two South African citizens or permanent residents, excluding members of your family.

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