Applications for permanent residency in South Africa are considered in terms of Section 26 (Direct Residency Permits) and Section 27 (Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permits) of the Immigration Act 2002 (Act No 13 of 2002), and read with Regulation 33 of the Immigration Regulations.
When it comes to granting Permanent Residency Permits, emphasis is placed on those immigrants who able to make a meaningful contribution to expanding the economic base of South Africa.
To make an application for a permanent residency permit, applicants must first submit representation to the Minister of Home Affairs explaining why he or she should be declared not to be an undesirable or prohibited person.
You could be considered a prohibited person if:
- You have a warrant of arrest against you or a conviction for torture, genocide, terrorism, drug trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering, or murder secured in South Africa or any country with which South Africa has frequent diplomatic relations
- You are infected with infectious diseases that are easily spread ie. cholera, pestilence, yellow fever and any other diseases as determined by the Department of Health.
- You supporter an organisation practising racial discrimination or social violence
- You are a member of an organisation using crime or terrorism in order to reach its goals
- You have previously been deported and have not been rehabilitated by the Department
You could be deemed to be rehabilitated if:
- you submit a sworn affidavit or solemn declaration that you will conform with the Act
- the Department has no reason to believe that you are inclined to violate the Act again
- you have not been within the Republic of South Africa for a period of 4 years or more
- alternatively, you may be deemed to be rehabilitated by paying a fine of R50 000 to the State (which may be reduced to R2000 if you paid for the cost of your deportation as well as all related costs).
You could be deemed to be an undesirable person if:
- It expected for you to become a public charge
- you are recognised by the Minister (after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board) as undesirable or you have been declared incompetent
- you are a fugitive from justice
- you are an un-rehabilitated insolvent
- you have a prior criminal conviction without an option of a fine for conduct which would be a crime in South Africa (with the exclusion of some prescribed infractions).
It is only after the Minister of Home Affairs has professed a potential immigrant not to be a prohibited/undesirable person, that an application for permanent residency status can be submitted.
Once you have received a positive response from the Minister of Home Affairs, you may submit a request for either a Direct Residency Permit or a Residency-on-Other-Grounds Permit.
You will be able to apply for all Permanent Residency Permits at the Department of Home Affairs, at the nearest office in province in which you intend to live and work. Otherwise, if you are based overseas, you will be able to apply at your nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate in the country in which you live.
An advocate, attorney or immigration practitioner can complete the application on your behalf (note that the immigration practitioner has to be registered with the Association of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (AIPSA).
Where applicable, a non-refundable fee can be paid upon submission of your application (spouses as per Section 26(b), dependent as per sections 26(c) and refugees as per Section 27(d) are excluded).
Along with completing and submitting Form BI-947, you must provide the following:
- A full set of fingerprints
- A marriage certificate or proof of spousal relationship (if applicable)
- A divorce decree or proof of legal separation (if applicable)
- Proof of custody of a minor (if applicable)
- A death certificate for a deceased spouse (if applicable)
- The consent of parents or guardians in case of minors
- Proof of judicial adoption of a minor (if applicable)
- Police clearance certificates for all countries in which you resided for one year or longer since the age of eighteen
- A valid temporary residency permit (if currently in South Africa)
Additional documents are applicable to the various immigration categories and these are listed in the permanent residence application Form BI-947.