3 Steps to Become South African citizen

Getting South African citizenship means being a rightful citizen of one of the most beautiful and dynamic countries in the world. It’s no surprise that so many people from across the world are settling in South Africa permanently.

If you want to follow in their footsteps, you’ve come to the right place. The next couple of paragraphs explain how to progress from ‘foreign immigrant’ to ‘South African citizen’.

The 3-step process

In most cases, obtaining citizenship in South Africa is a process involving three steps:
  • Temporary residence 
  • Permanent residence 
  • Citizenship 
One instance where the process is different is in the case of a financially independent visa. Here, the applicant is automatically granted permanent residency status. This is based on the fact that the applicant has provided sufficient evidence of the fact that they can sustain their lifestyle financially.

The financially independent visa are in few people’s reaches, so let’s concentrate on permits that follow the standard process of temporary and permanent residence:

Quick Links 

Spousal and Life Partner visas

If your marriage to or relationship with a South African citizen or lifelong resident has been shorter than five years, you may be eligible for a temporary permit.

Once you can prove a marriage or relationship of five years or longer, or if you can prove this fact at the time of wanting to move to South Africa, you can apply for permanent residency.

Relatives visa

Both first kin and other kinds of a South African resident are eligible for temporary South African residence, but only first kin relatives can apply for permanent residency.

First kin family members are spouses, children and parents. Second kin is grandparents, grandchildren, brothers and sisters.

Retirement visa

The temporary South African retirement visa is valid for four years. Once you have temporary residency, you are welcome to apply for permanent residency.

Permanent residency does come with its own financial requirements through – you must be able to prove a guaranteed life-long income of ZAR37 000 a month.

Like most other governments around the world, the South African government prefers to welcome foreigners who can support themselves financially.

General work visa

General work visas are valid for between two and five years, but never longer than the duration of the employment contract. If you’ve had temporary residency for 5 years, and were employed throughout this time, you could be eligible for permanent South African residency.

Critical skills visa

Temporary critical skills visas are valid for up to five years. Once you’ve been working in the country for five years, you can go ahead and apply for permanent residency.

However, if you have five years of experience in your field at the time that you decide to apply for a visa to South Africa, you can make a permanent application immediately.

Business visa

The temporary business visa is usually valid for two years, but it could be granted for more extended periods in specific instances. Once the temporary residency has been obtained, an application for permanent residency can be made.

Please keep in mind that no matter which visa you apply for, specific criteria must be met to be eligible for temporary or permanent residency. Being able to meet these criteria already gives the South African government a fair idea of your desirability as a South African citizen. Please have a look at the visa options on our website for more information.

Now that we’ve covered temporary and permanent residency. Let ’s look at how to take the final steps to get South African citizenship.
Making your South African status official

By now it should be clear that you must have a permit for permanent residency in your pocket before you can apply for South African citizenship.
In addition to this, you must have had spent five years usually residing in South Africa at the time of your application. One of these years must be the year immediately before submitting your request for citizenship.

Spouses have slightly different requirements, so please just check these with the Department of Home Affairs or us.

Other requirements that are asked of all applicants for South African citizenship are:

  • You must be of sound and sound character. 
  • You are proficient in one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. 
  • You have adequate knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of a South African citizen. 
If you can prove all of this and you have stayed in South Africa for the required five years, then you are well on your way to becoming a South African citizen.

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