Frequently Asked Questions

Temporary Residency in South Africa

What is the difference between a South African visa & a South African permit?

Colloquially, the terms are used interchangeably. Legally speaking, however, a visa is for temporary residency. A permit is issued when an applicant receives permanent residency.

Can I submit my visa application in South Africa?

First time applications cannot be submitted from within South Africa. First time applications must be done in an applicant’s country of citizenship or residency, unless the applicant falls under an exception:

  1. Is the spouse/child of a South African citizen;
  2. Has a medical emergency that needs to be attended to;
  3. Has a spouse who is the holder of a critical skills or business visa and the child wishes to be on a study visa or the spouse wants to be on a study/work visa of their own;
  4. Has received a waiver (eg: permission) to apply from within South Africa

Must I submit my visa application in person?

Yes, all applications for visas, permanent residency, rectifications and transfers must be submitted in person. If in South Africa, the application must be done in person through VFS Global. If abroad, you will either submit through VFS Global or a South African consulate/Embassy, depending on the country.

How soon must I submit my renewal for a visa?

If you are in South Africa on temporary residency, it is essential to apply for your visa renewal at least 60 days in advance. Not only is this the law, but it gives the Department of Home Affairs time to process your visa and prevent you from being in the country on a receipt of application.

Do I need to renew if I have a pending permanent residency application?

Yes, you must always have a valid temporary residency visa whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your permanent residency. If you fail to renew your temporary residency, your permanent residency will be rejected on the grounds that you are illegal in the country.

If I am in South Africa, will I be able to travel while waiting for the outcome of my application?

You can always travel while you are on a valid visa which is endorsed in your passport. It is not possible to travel in and out of South Africa on a receipt of application. If your visa has expired and the new visa has not yet been issued when you travel, you will be declared undesirable and banned for a period of one to five years.

Can you guarantee that my application will be successful?

We at June Luna Immigration Attorneys ensure that applications are complaint with the law and that all the necessary paperwork is submitted for a successful adjudication. However, we are not the Department of Home Affairs and this cannot guarantee that an application will be approved, as mistakes can be made during the adjudication process in Pretoria. However, as part of our services, if you are rejected we will not charge you additional fees to appeal – you just pay the VFS fee!

Can you assist me in applying from abroad?

Yes, we can assist you to make your first visa application from abroad. We will compile your application alongside you, provide you with a hard copy, and familiarise you with submitting the application from abroad.

What happens if my application is refused?

If the Department of Home Affairs or Embassy/Consulate rejects your application for temporary or permanent residency, you are entitled to a written rejection to explain why your application was not approved. You are then entitled to appeal this rejection within a period of 10 working days (per section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 as amended) and your application will be reconsidered. If rejected again, you will have one more opportunity to appeal (per section 8(6) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 as amended) before the decision becomes final. At this stage, it is still possible to have the decision overturned but this involves approaching the High Court of South Africa for a review of the decision made.

What is a critical skills work visa?

A critical skills visa is a type of work visa issued to a non South African citizen who wishes to work in South Africa and holds a skill which South Africa deems to be critical as there is a shortage of that type of skill in the country. The critical skills list, which was published in 2014 (and has not been changed) is subject to change depending on the current state of affairs in South Africa.

Do I need a contract of employment before I can apply for a critical skills work visa?

No, it is not necessary to have a contract of employment to apply for a critical skills visa. If you apply for a critical skills visa without a job offer, you will receive a period of 12 months to find a job in the category that your critical skills visa has been issued under. You are not able to renew a 12-month critical skills visa from within South Africa – you will either need to provide an employer or return to your home country.

Can I work on a Spouse Visa?

A section 11(6) visa will allow the holder to either work, study or run a business whilst residing with their South African spouse. You can only work/study/run a business for what is endorsed on the visa. If your visa does not have the endorsement or has been issued in terms of section 18 (relatives), you are not entitled to work until you have received the visa indicating that you can do so (a receipt is not enough).

Permanent Residency in South Africa

How long must I be in South Africa to qualify for permanent residency?

Permanent residency is not based on the duration of time you have been in South Africa. Rather, it is based on a closed list of categories. You must qualify in terms of one of the categories to successfully apply for permanent residency.

My permanent residency has been pending a long time. What should I do?

Permanent residency is estimated to take between 8-24 months, depending on the category under which you apply. If you have applied under the category of spouse (section 26(b)), the period of time that you will wait to receive your outcome is the longest. However, by applying to the High Court of South Africa for a court order to compel the Department of Home Affairs to adjudicate your application, you can reduce the time spent waiting for an outcome. Whether or not to go to court needs to be determined on a case by case basis.

Do I get a South African passport once I am a permanent resident?

Permanent residency will provide you with a South African identity number, identity book and indefinite leave to remain in the country. However, permanent residency is not the same as citizenship and will not entitle you to a South African passport.

What happens if I leave South Africa after obtaining my South African permanent residency?

In order to maintain your South African permanent residency, you must make sure to enter South Africa within a period of twelve months from when it is issued (this does not apply if you receive your permanent residency while you are in South Africa) and not be absent from the Republic for more than three years at a time.


I have been declared an undesirable person, when can I come back to South Africa?

Once you have been declared undesirable, you must apply for the undesirability to be uplifted before you can return to South Africa. This is even if your undesirability has a time limit (eg: banned for one year). You know you are no longer undesirable once you have a letter which uplifts your undesirability or a court order which has uplifted the undesirability.

I have applied to have my undesirability uplifted, but I have not received an outcome. What do I do?

As you have 10 working days to file an appeal to uplift your undesirability, the Department of Home Affairs has 10 working days to consider your appeal. If it has been longer than 10 days, it is important to follow-up and ensure that your email was received. If it has been received and longer than 10 days, you may consider litigation through the High Court of South Africa to expedite the appeal, especially if you have been separated from your family.

If you have any further questions please feel free to get in touch below