A foreign national wishing to reside in South Africa permanently requires a Permanent Residence Permit.
Permanent Residence Permits are divided into two different sub-categories, namely Direct Residence and Residence on Other Grounds. Within these two sub-categories are several further categories in which an application can be made.
Each category has different criteria which need to be met in order for a foreign national to qualify to make an application. In addition to documentation and information regarding the foreign national himself/herself, these criteria form the basis on which the application will be considered.
Permanent Residence may be applied for by a foreign national in the Direct Residence sub-category, provided he/she meets one the following key criteria:
- He/she has been the holder of a work visa for a continuous period of 5 years or more and has received an offer of permanent employment.
- he/has been the spouse of a South African citizen or permanent residence for a period of 5 years or more. A spouse includes parties to a marriage, a civil union, a customary union or a permanent heterosexual or homosexual spousal relationship. The permit will lapse if at any time within two years from the date that it is issued the spousal relationship no longer exists, except in the case of death of the South African citizen or permanent resident spouse;
- he/she is the child (under the age of 18 years) of a South African citizen or permanent resident. The permit will lapse if the child concerned does not submit an application for its confirmation within 2 years from his/her 18th birthday; or
- he/she is the child of a South African citizen.
Residence on Other Grounds
Permanent Residence may be applied for by a foreign national in the Residence on Other Grounds sub-category, if he/she meets any of the following criteria:
- he/she has received an offer of permanent employment, provided that it is proven that the position exists and the job description was advertised according to certain criteria and that no suitably-qualified South African citizen or permanent resident was available for appointment to the position. The application must fall within the yearly limits of available permits prescribed for industry sectors. Permanent Residence Permits may also be extended to the spouse and children under the age of 18 years of the foreign national concerned. It is currently not possible to apply for Permanent Residence in this sub-category, as the Department of Home Affairs has not published any listing of available permits or industry sectors;
- he/she has satisfactorily demonstrated that he/she possesses extraordinary skills or qualifications. Permanent Residence Permits may also be extended to the spouse and children under the age of 18 years of the foreign national concerned;
- he/she intends to establish or have established a business in South Africa meeting certain financial capital contribution investment and other requirements. Permanent Residence Permits may also be extended to the spouse and children under the age of 18 years of the foreign national concerned. The permit will lapse if the holder fails to prove within 2 years from the date that it is issued and 3 years thereafter, that certain financial and/or capital contribution requirements have been met;
- he/she is a Refugee referred to in terms of Section 27(c) of the Refugees Act 1998 (as amended). This section of the Refugees Act states that a Refugee may apply for Permanent Residence Status in terms of the Immigration Act after 5 years of continuous residence in South Africa from the date that he/she was granted asylum, provided that the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs certifies that he/she will remain a Refugee indefinitely;
- he/she intends to retire in South Africa, provided he/she has the right to a pension or an irrevocable annuity or retirement account which gives/will give him/her a minimum payment of at least R37 000.00 per month for rest of his/her life or that he/she has a combination of assets which generate at least R37 000.00 income per month;
- he/she has a minimum net worth of R12 million and is willing and able to pay a set fee of R120 000.00; or
- he/she is the relative of a South African citizen or permanent resident within the first step of kinship.
The holder of a Permanent Residence Permit has all the rights, privileges, duties and obligations of a South African citizen, save for those which a South African Law or the Constitution explicitly ascribes to South African citizens.
A Permanent Residence Permit is issued on condition that the holder is not a Prohibited or Undesirable Person as defined in the Immigration Act. He/she may also have reasonable individual terms and conditions attached to him/her.
Permanent Residence Permits may be withdrawn in the following instances, should the holder:
- be convicted of certain offences;
- fail to comply with the terms and conditions of his/her permit;
- be absent from South Africa for more than three years. There are certain concessions in respect of time spent outside of South Africa in the service of the Government of South Africa or an international organisation of which the Government is a member. Concessions also apply to spouses and dependent children of South African citizens. The Minister of the Department of Home Affairs may exempt a foreign national in this regard; or
- not take up residence in South Africa within a period of 1 year from the date of issuance of the permit.