A foreigner who has a relative in South Africa that is either South African or a South African permanent resident may be eligible for temporary and/or permanent residency. As long as all general and special requirements are complied with for such an application, these are relatively straight forward visas and permits to have issued to an applicant. In other words, they aren't as discretionary as other types of visas - like business or critical skills visas. BUT - there can be long turn-around times to receive an outcome, especially for permanent residency permits.
A relative is an immediate family member - within the second line of kinship. Essentially, this is a parent/child (or vice versa) relationship. For temporary residency (not permanent), one can apply on the basis of a brother/sister relationship. A relatives visa can also be issued to the spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident. This relationship can be proved by an applicant's birth certificate or marriage certificate. The South African citizen or permanent resident on whom the application is based must also be aware of the application and provide a letter of support and financial assurance (unless they are a minor).
The holder of a temporary residence visa based on a relative cannot work unless express authorization has been given by the Department, which is a separate application. Once a permanent resident, an applicant is entitled to work and have a South African identity book. You can read more about the rights of South African permanent residents here.
According to the most recent StatsSA report (issued in 2017), over 22 000 temporary residency visas were issued in 2015. These accounted for over 30% of all temporary residency visas issued. The same year, over 1 327 permanent residency permits were issued on the basis of being a relative to a South African citizen or permanent resident. These permanent residency certificates accounted for over 20% of all permanent residency permits issued.
VFS now states that temporary residency based on a relative will take roughly 60 days to adjudicate and permanent residency based on a relative will take between 12 and 24 months!
Why? It is my opinion that it is a combination of factors. First of all, we know that there is a massive backlog of files at the Department of Home Affairs. Relatives visas and permits are placed on the 'back-burner' and don't take priority because they may not be bringing in critical skills or essential workers to South Africa - and in the case of a permanent resident, they may take a job which the South African government would want to keep for a South African citizen - especially since unemployment is at a fifteen year high.
Contact us if you have questions about applying for temporary or permanent residency based on being a relative. We can also assist with expedition of applications for temporary and permanent residency which are still outstanding.