In terms of section 27(f) of the Immigration Act, an applicant can apply for permanent residency on the grounds of 'financial independence' - which is slightly different than permanent residency on retirement, but leads to the same rights and obligations once obtained.
Neither permanent residency on financial independence or retirement have an age qualification - in other words, an applicant can be any age and successfully apply if certain conditions are met. However, with retirement an applicant is intending to not work in South Africa, whereas with financial independence an applicant may work, but because of their financial situation, they do not have to.
Financial independence requires a once off lump payment to the Department, which is discussed below. This is not needed for permanent residency based on retirement, so careful consideration must be given to which category is right given the applicant's current financial situation and intentions in South Africa.
How much money is needed for financial independence? An applicant needs to show a minimum of R12 million - in the form of various assets such as property, financial investments, bank statements, portfolios, etc. The money and/or does not have to be in South Africa - it is completely acceptable for it to originate from abroad.
If all other requirements are complied with in addition to showing R12 million, the Department of Home Affairs then contacts an applicant and requests a payment of R120 000. Once received and cleared, the permanent residency certificate will be sent back to VFS.
There seems to be a misconception around permanent residency based on financial independence, which is that these applications are processed quicker than other types of permanent residency applications. Although we can see where this misconception comes from (after all, a lump sum is being paid to the Department for permanent residency), we have found that these applications take just as long as retirement permanent residency and thus should not be considered a 'quicker road' to permanent residency than any other financial based category. You can read more about how most people obtain permanent residency and the turn-around times here.
If you have any questions about whether you are eligible on financial independence or if it is the right category for you, reach out to us and let us give you a free initial assessment.