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South Africa – Residency

Types of Residency in South Africa

South Africa offers several types of residency options to foreign nationals who wish to live and work in the country. These include temporary residence permits and permanent residence permits.

Temporary Residence Permits

Temporary residence permits are issued to foreign nationals who plan to stay in South Africa for a specific period. These permits are valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. There are several types of temporary residence permits available, including:

Visitor’s Visa

A visitor’s visa is issued to foreigners who intend to visit South Africa for tourism, business, or medical treatment. This visa is valid for up to 90 days and cannot be extended.

Work Visa

A work visa is issued to foreign nationals who have a job offer in South Africa. To be eligible for a work visa, applicants must have a job offer from a South African employer, and the employer must provide proof that the job cannot be filled by a local candidate. Work visas are valid for up to 5 years and can be renewed.


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Business Visa

A business visa is issued to foreign nationals who plan to invest in a business or start a business in South Africa. To be eligible for a business visa, applicants must have a minimum investment of R5 million and must be able to prove that the business will benefit the South African economy. Business visas are valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed.

Study Visa

A study visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to study in South Africa. To be eligible for a study visa, applicants must have been accepted to study at a South African institution, and the institution must provide proof of acceptance. Study visas are valid for the duration of the course of study and can be renewed.

Permanent Residence Permits

Permanent residence permits are issued to foreign nationals who wish to reside in South Africa indefinitely. There are several ways to obtain a permanent residence permit, including:

Direct Residence Permit

A direct residence permit is issued to foreign nationals who have been living in South Africa for 5 years on a valid work, business, or study visa. Applicants must be able to prove that they have been living in South Africa for 5 years and have a good understanding of the country’s culture and language.

Critical Skills Visa

A critical skills visa is issued to foreign nationals who have skills that are in demand in South Africa. To be eligible for a critical skills visa, applicants must have a degree or equivalent qualification in a critical skills area, such as engineering, medicine, or IT. Critical skills visas are valid for up to 5 years and can lead to permanent residence.

Spousal and Family Visas

Spousal and family visas are issued to foreign nationals who have family members who are South African citizens or permanent residents. To be eligible for a spousal or family visa, applicants must be able to prove that they are married to a South African citizen or permanent resident, or have a parent, child, or sibling who is a South African citizen or permanent resident.

Process for Applying for Residency in South Africa

Foreign nationals who wish to apply for residency in South Africa must complete an application form and submit it to the South African Department of Home Affairs. The application must include all the required documentation, including a valid passport, proof of financial means, and proof of medical insurance.

Documents Required for Residency in South Africa

The following documents are required to support an application for residency in South Africa:

  • Completed and signed residency application form
  • Passport or other valid travel document
  • Proof of financial means to support oneself and any dependents in South Africa
  • Proof of purpose of stay in South Africa, such as a job offer, study certificate, or family reunion certificate
  • Health certificate
  • Criminal record check from the applicant’s home country and any country where the applicant has lived for more than 6 months in the past 5 years

Registration Upon Arrival in South Africa

Upon arrival in South Africa, the holder of a residency permit must register with the local authorities within 30 days. This can be done by visiting the nearest South African Home Affairs office and providing the following documents:

  • Residency permit
  • Passport or other valid travel document
  • Proof of address in South Africa
  • Health certificate
  • Criminal record check from the applicant’s home country and any country where the applicant has lived for more than 6 months in the past 5 years

Sources of Information on Residency in South Africa

For reliable, up-to-date information on residency in South Africa, the following websites can be consulted:


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