Permanent residence explained

Permanent residence permits are issued by the Head Office of the South African Department of Home Affairs, which is based in Pretoria. Applications for permanent residence can be submitted at the relevant South African authorities in the applicant’s home country, if the applicant still resides in his/her home country. However, if the applicant already resides in South Africa, he/she is obliged to submit the application at the relevant local authorities. When submitting an application for permanent residence, all applicants are required to be present for an interview as well as to have their fingerprints taken.

An application for permanent residence can be made alone, parallel to or shortly after an application for temporary residence has been made, if an applicant qualifies for both types of permits.

The processing time of a permanent residence application by the authorities varies hugely and can currently be anything from three months up to three years. The reasons for this involve various national and international channels, which influence the processing of an application.

With the issuing of the permanent residence status, the holder of the permit is given certain rights – but also certain duties and obligations – which he/she must comply with. Some of these depend on the category within which the application was made, and are usually to be fulfilled three or five years from the date the permit was issued. Others are more general and apply to every permanent residence holder (see status, rights, duties + obligations of a permanent residence holder).

The original permanent residence certificate, which is issued to every permanent residence holder after their status has been granted, should be kept in a very safe place to avoid the loss of the document as it will not be reissued (see permanent residence certificate + loss of this document).

Please note that the permanent residence status should not be mistaken for citizenship status in South Africa. For more information on citizenship, please click here.

To view the different categories within which an application for permanent residence can be made, please see immigration, individuals and/or contact us directly for a personal consultation to determine if you qualify to apply for permanent residence status in South Africa.