Permanent Residence

How to stay permanently in South Africa

To grant Permanent Residency Permits, the Department of Home Affairs favours those who are in position to make a meaningful contribution to broadening the South African economic base. Foreigners can apply for a Direct Residency Permit, or a Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit.

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 (terrorism, deportation, arrests, being a fugitive, and being infected with infectious diseases are considered prohibited).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.

Residence permits can be withdrawn for various reasons, including the following:

  • Any information supplied in the application is found to be incorrect.
  • Change of occupation within three years of being granted permanent residence without being granted permission to do so by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Obtaining a permit on the basis of a marriage undertaken less than two years before the date of issue of the permit, and the marriage being terminated less than two years after this date, unless you can persuade the Department that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of securing permanent residence.

Direct Residency Permits

Foreigners who have been residing in South Africa with Work Permits for 5 years or more (and their spouses), and dependants of South African citizens or Permanent Residence Permit holders can apply for a Direct Residency Permit. To apply they must complete Form BI-947 (it can be downloaded at:

Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit

To be able to apply for the Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit, the applicant must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • Have a permanent job offer in South Africa;
  • Have exceptional skills;
  • Intend to establish a business;
  • Qualify as a Refugee;
  • Qualify as a retired person;
  • Be financially independent;
  • Be a relative (biologically or judicially adopted) of a South African citizen or a Permanent Residence Permit holder.

Along with Form BI-947, the applicant must submit:

  • A full set of fingerprints;
  • A marriage certificate or proof of spousal relationship (if required);
  • A divorce decree or proof of separation (if required);
  • Proof of custody or judicial adoption of a minor (if required);
  • A death certificate for a late spouse (if applicable);
  • In case of minors, a parents consent;
  • A police clearance certificate from each country in which the person resided for more than 12 months since the age of 18;
  • A valid Temporary Residency Permit (if in South Africa).

More information can be found on the Home Affaires Department site ( ).

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