Emigration to South Africa
Department of Home Affairs, South Africa's immigration authority. Embassies and consulates also provide further information.
The South African Immigration Law was rewritten in 2005. It is more transparent now, although the immigration ministry still reserves a widely defined right of descretion. The following presents the basic outlines for the issuing of Visa, Work Permits and Permanent Residence Permits in South Africa. Further information and application forms to be found on the website of the
1. Temporary Residence Permits
A. Visitor Permits
Visa for visitors are usually free of charge. They are limited to 90 days and don't entail a work permit. A visitor's visum can be extended once for another 90 days at a certain fee. The application must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for staying longer and handed in at the nearest Home Affairs office, at latest 30 days before the expiry date of the first visum. Take your passport along (valid at least for 6 months), a return ticket, extended to the new date of departure, proof of sufficient funding (bank balance or cash or credit card or Traveller's Checks).
B. Extended Visitor Permits
This temporary residence permit is valid for up to 3 years and can be applied for, if one plans to do an academic year in South Africa, attend a school or other educational institute, pursue charity or voluntary work (without remuneration), or live together with a South African citizen or permanent resident in marriage or life partnership.
You can apply for this type of visum from your home country or directly at the Home Affairs in South Africa. You have to produce divorce documents, a clean criminal record and a medical (incl. radiological) examination. You must also give proof of sufficient financial means to maintain yourself (approx. 10,000 Rand per month is expected). This temporary residence permit does not entail a work permit.
C. Residence and Work Permits
If you would like to live and work in South Africa as an employee, you require a work permit. You need to have found an employer already. Your future employer must have advertised the position publicly. Then he has to hand in the list of applicants and explain, why the position cannot be filled with a South African of equal qualification and what the reasons were to refuse the applications of South Africans. Furthermore, your university degree resp. your professional qualification must have been accepted by the SAQA (South African Qualification Authority).
Besides this procedure, there is a quota regulation. This "Quota Permit" applies to certain professions, which are stipulated every year by the Ministry of Work. If you have the luck to gain a work permit this way, you must find an employment contract within the following 90 days. Independant of the stipulated quota, a work permit is generally granted, if the applicant disposes of extraordinary abilities or skills. Companies can acquire a so-called "Corporate Permit", if they give reasons for needing foreign employees.
D. Business Permits
Entrepreneurs and investors can acquire the "Business Permit". It is usually issued for 2 years and can be extended for unlimited times. Condition for the granting is a minimum investment of 2.5 million Rand into the book value of an existing or planned enterprise, which has to belong to a sector of national interest (e.g. modern information and communication technology, chemistry and biotechnology, processing of agricultural produce, production of automobiles, raw materials and mining, tourism and craftmanship). Additionally one has to create at least 5 jobs for South Africans (within 5 years) and a detailed business plan must be shown.
E. Retired Person Permits
A visum for persons who want to retire to South Africa and who receive a permanent pension in their home country, is regularly granted, if the monthly pension income amounts to a minimum of 20,000 Rand. A fixed income rendered from assets is also accepted. The Pensioner's Visum is usually being issued for a period of 4 years and can be extended for another 4 years at the time.
2. Permanent Residence Permits
The following groups of persons can apply for a permanent residence permit:
Persons who are in the possession of a Work Permit for at least 5 years, if they have an unlimited employment. The Permanent Residence Permit includes the marital or living partner and children under 21 years of age.
Marital or life partners of South Africans or holders of a Permanent Residence Permit can acquire a Permanent Residence Permit, if the marriage/partnership exists for at least 5 years. This applies to heterosexual and homosexual couples alike. Proof must be furnished that the two partners are living together.
Entrepreneurs and investors, who are in the possession of a Business Permit for 5 years or have successfully established a company in South Africa for this period, can acquire a Permanent Residence Permit.
Pensioners who receive a permanent pension of more than 20,000 Rand per month from their home country.
Financially independant persons who transfer at least R7.5 million to South Africa plus pay a once-off fee of R75,000 to the Immigration authoritiy.
All applications for a temporary or permanent residence permit in South Africa can be made in South Africa - or from the home country - through the applicant him/herself. One can also mandate a South African attorney or an "Immigration Practitioner" with this procedure. The latter has to be a member of the Association of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (AIPSA).