Applications for Permanent Residency Permits must be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs, at the nearest office in the South African province in which the person intends to live and work.
Applicants must first submit a representation to the Minister of Home Affairs, explaining why they should not be declared a prohibited or undesirable person. Once the Minister of Home Affairs declares an applicant not to be prohibited, the applicant may submit an application for Permanent Residency.
Part of the application process is attending an interview with a member of the Department of Home Affairs (if you are applying within South Africa) or the Department of Foreign Affairs (if you’re applying outside South Africa). If your application is rejected, the reasons will be supplied in writing, as well as details of your right to appeal against the decision and the time-frame and procedures of an appeal.
Permanent Residency Application
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 from abroad you need to complete Application Form BI-947. However, applicants are advised to apply from within South Africa through VFS.
Residency On Other Grounds
To be able to apply for the Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit, the applicant must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Possess a permanent work offer in South Africa;
- 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;
- Be financially independent;
- Be a relative (biologically or judicially adopted) of a South African citizen/permanent residence permit holder (does not apply to parents of South African children).
Who can apply?
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.
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).
As mentioned above, permanent residency applications can be made abroad, however it is encouraged that applicants try to submit from within the country (through VFS), as this typically results in a quicker turnaround time.
More information can be found on the Home Affaires Department site.