Reaching the stage where one applies for permanent residence in South Africa is the goal of many foreign nationals who relocate to the country.
South Africa welcomes immigrants who contribute to the country’s economic welfare, however, each applicant must first be able to show that he or she is permitted to remain in the country.
Having a valid residence permit in South Africa for temporary purposes beforehand is essential, along with other criteria.
The permanent residence application in South Africa is also favorably considered in the case of a foreign spouse or a dependent of an individual who applies for permanent residence.
The guide presented below by our immigration lawyers in South Africa clarifies the process, however, if you need more details, and with to apply in 2023, you are always welcome to reach out to us.
Table of Contents
Who can apply for permanent residence in South Africa?
For the purpose of most foreign nationals who arrive in South Africa seeking employment, permanent residence is awarded after a period of 5 years in the country.
This is often the purpose of those interested in immigration to South Africa. If you would like to know more about the initial, temporary residence application, our team can provide you with complete details about the initial requirements, based on your intentions (your purpose of staying in the country). One of our agents will be able to provide you with a complete list of needed documents. We will also give you details about the permit renewal requirements, and how to replace it if needed.
This is the direct residence permit route – applicable to those foreigners who were residing temporarily based on a South Africa residence permit for work purposes.
When a foreign national applies for permanent residence in South Africa under this direct route after working for 5 years, his or her spouse and any dependents can also apply for residency.
| Permanent residence
Direct residency (work, spouse married for at least 5 years, dependent)
Who can apply
|Individuals who have lawfully lived in South Africa for a minimum period
Those who are able to make a meaningful contribution to the country’s economy
|An individual who applies for permanent residence in South Africa is required to continue to renew the temporary resident visa while waiting for the permanent permit|
|Documents for obtaining permanent residence in South Africa||Filled-in form, passport, work visa, marriage certificate (if applicable), police clearance certificate, medical report, yellow fever vaccination, other relevant documents (such as proof of permanent employment)|
|Application fees||R 1,520 (approx. 90 EUR) in most cases|
|Permanent residency for investment purposes||
Yes, subject to conditions
The following businesses are regarded as undesirable: security industry, hospitality industry, cosmetic and beauty industry, fast-food outlets and franchises, and others
|Minimum investment amount to obtain residency||Not specifically prescribed for permanent residence
For a business visa, the minimum investment is at least R5,000,000 (approx. 297.553 EUR)
|Minimum temporary residence before applying for permanent residence||5 years in most cases|
|Dependents can join business permit holder (Yes/No)||Yes, subject to a separate application at the same time|
|Residency for individuals married to a citizen||If married for at least 5 years, the spouse submits a permanent residence permit application|
|Persons prohibited from applying for permanent residence in South Africa||Individuals with a warrant of arrest, members of organizations known for practising racial hatred/social violence, members of terrorist organizations
Individuals who have been previously deported and have not been rehabilitated
|Citizenship after permanent residence||5 years from the date of obtaining permanent residence|
|Naturalization requirements||Proper application, proof of continuous residence 1 year prior to application, proof of language knowledge, induction to become a citizen of the Republic of South Africa attendance, compulsory naturalization ceremony attendance|
|Dual citizenship permitted for those who obtain residency in South Africa (Yes/No)||Yes|
The direct residency permit is applied for using a special form.
Our immigration lawyers in South Africa can give you more details about the conditions applicable in 2023, the laws and the requirements set forth by the Government.
As previously stated, foreign nationals who comply with the conditions related to lawfully living and working in the country can, after a prescribed number of years, apply for permanent residence in South Africa.
There are, however, a number of instances in which the applicant will also be evaluated on grounds other than having had a South Africa residence permit for temporary purposes for the five-year period.
The category of residence awarded for other purposes applies to those who:
- have special skills/work conditions: those who either have valuable skills and qualifications or have been awarded a permanent work offer in the country;
- wish to start a business: foreign investors who intend to open a company in South Africa; minimum investment amounts can apply;
- relatives: the relatives of a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holders can also apply for a residence permit for South Africa on grounds other than the direct route;
- others: included here are retired individuals, those who are financially independent, as well as refugees interested in immigration to South Africa.
Permanent residence for company formation in South Africa is, as previously mentioned, subject to conditions for minimum capital, but also for hiring a certain percentage of nationals or permanent residents once the business is running. However, when foreign nationals comply with these requirements, they can also bring their family members with them to South Africa.
What are the main requirements for the permanent residence application in South Africa in 2023
In addition to filling in the required form, the following documents are required when submitting the application:
- biometric data (fingerprints);
- marriage, divorce, or death certificate for a late spouse, if applicable;
- documents for minor children (adoption papers, parent’s consent, proof of custody, etc.);
- police clearance from the country of origin;
- the valid temporary South Africa residence permit.
Who can be prohibited from applying for permanent residence in South Africa?
Certain categories of individuals can be prohibited or undesirable:
- persons carrying infectious diseases;
- those with a warrant of arrest or involved in certain crimes or terrorist organizations;
- fugitives from justice, those judicially declared incompetent, those likely to become a public charge.
The Government’s official guide for the people of South Africa reveals the following:
- Statistics South Africa estimates that the mid-year population for 2021 was 60.14 million people;
- 51,1% of the population is female (30.75 million);
- 48.9% of the population is male (29,39 million).
- Gauteng is the region that holds the largest percentage of the South African population.
If you need information on how to apply for permanent residence in South Africa in 2023, our lawyers can help you. Contact us for more information on our immigration services.