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Applications for permanent residency in South Africa are considered in terms of Section 26 (Direct Residency Permits) and Section 27 (Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permits) of the Immigration Act 2002 (Act No 13 of 2002), and read with Regulation 33 of the Immigration Regulations. In terms of granting Permanent Residency Permits, emphasis is placed on immigrants who are in a position to make a meaningful contribution to broadening the economic base of South Africa.
In order to make an application for a permanent residency permit, applicants must first submit representation to the Minister of Home Affairs motivating why he or she should be declared not to be a prohibited person or an undesirable person.
You may be considered a prohibited person if:
- You are infected with infectious diseases that can spread easily. These diseases include cholera; pestilence, yellow fever and any other diseases as determined by the Department of Health from time to time
- You have a warrant of arrest against you or a conviction for genocide, torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, terrorism, or murder secured in South Africa or any country with which South Africa has regular diplomatic relations
- You are a member or supporter of an organisation practising racial hatred or social violence
- You are a member of an organisation using crime or terrorism to reach its goals
- You have previously been deported and have not been rehabilitated by the Department in the prescribed manner.
You may be deemed to be rehabilitated if:
- you submit a sworn affidavit or solemn declaration that you will comply with the Act
- the Department has no reason to believe that you are inclined to violate the Act again
- you have not been inside the Republic of South Africa for a period of 4 years or more
- alternatively, you may be deemed to be rehabilitated by a forfeiture to the State of R50 000 (which may be reduced to R2000 if you paid for the cost of your deportation as well as the related costs).
You may be deemed to be an undesirable person if
- you are or are likely to become a public charge
- you are identified by the Minister (after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board as undesirable or you have been judicially declared incompetent
- you are an un-rehabilitated insolvent
- you are a fugitive from justice
- you have a previous criminal conviction without the option of a fine for conduct which would be an offence in South Africa (with the exclusion of certain prescribed offences).
It is only after the Minister of Home Affairs has declared a prospective immigrant not to be a prohibited/undesirable person, that an application for permanent residency status can be submitted.
Once you have received a positive response from the Minister of Home Affairs, you may submit an application for either a Direct Residency Permit or a Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit.
Direct residence permits
This category of permit is applicable to foreigners who have been residing in South Africa on the basis of their work permits for a minimum period of five years, their spouses and also to dependents of South African citizens/permanent residence permit holders.
To apply for a direct residency permit you need to complete Form BI-947.
This category of permits applies to foreigners who:
- are in possession of a permanent work offer in South Africa, or
- have exceptional skills and qualifications
- intend to establish a business in South Africa
- qualify as Refugees in terms of Section 27(c) of the Refugees Act
- qualify as retired persons
- are financially independent
- are relatives (biologically or judicially adopted) of a South African citizen/permanent residence permit holder
You can apply for all Permanent Residency Permits at the Department of Home Affairs, at the nearest office in the South African province in which you intend to live and work. Alternatively, if you are based overseas, you can apply at your nearest South African embassy, mission or cunsulate in the country in which you live.
An attorney, advocate or immigration practitioner can make the application on your behalf (note that the immigration practitioner must be registered with the Association of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (AIPSA).
Where applicable, a non-refundable fee is payable on submission of your application (spouses as per Section 26(b), dependent as per sections 26(c) and refugees as per Section 27(d) are excluded).
In addition to completing and submitting Form BI-947, you must also provide the following documentation:
- A full set of fingerprints
- A marriage certificate / Proof of spousal relationship, if applicable
- A divorce decree / proof of legal separation, if applicable
- Proof of custody of a minor, if applicable
- A death certificate for a late spouse, if applicable
- The consent of parents in the case of minors
- Proof of judicial adoption of a minor, if applicable
- Police clearance certificates for all countries in which you resided for a period of one year or longer since your 18th birthday
- A valid temporary residency permit (if already in South Africa).
Additional documents are applicable to the different immigration categories and these are listed in the permanent residence application Form BI-947.