Permanent Residency in South Africa

Permanent residency in South Africa allows an applicant to reside in South Africa on a permanent basis without the need to renew a visa every set number of years. Permanent residency may be granted to an applicant who meets all the requirements set out in Sections 26 or 27 of the Immigration Act.

A common misconception is that a person is eligible for permanent residency once they have resided in South Africa for a prescribed number of years. This is not the case. Much like temporary residency, an applicant must choose a single category under which to apply for permanent residency. The categories available are similar to temporary residency and include grounds to apply on the basis of a spouse, work, retirement, financial worth or being the relative to a South African citizen or permanent resident.

An application for permanent residence must be submitted in person preferably within South Africa through VFS Global so that a proper tracking number is given. It is important that the correct category is chosen, as an application for permanent residency should take between eight to twelve months but can vary depending on the category chosen. You can read more about that here.

In terms of the South African Identity Act, once an application for permanent residency is approved, an applicant is obliged to apply for a South African identity book. This is a great document to have, as it makes transacting in South Africa much easier, especially with banks and auto dealerships.

South African permanent residency does NOT allow you South African citizenship, which would include the right to vote or a passport. This is a separate application submitted after obtaining permanent residency and after you have resided in South Africa for the prescribed number of years.

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