While South Africa is a key destination for many tourists and foreigners, many South Africans who visit foreign countries come back to their home country with the hopes of their current or future foreign spouses (husbands or wives) or foreign life-partners (partners in a permanent relationship) residing with them in their beautiful home country.
What is a South African Spousal Permit
All foreigners require a permit to reside legally in South Africa, whereby a spouse (husband or wife) of a South African would need to apply for a spousal permit. A temporary residence permit can be issued to a foreign spouse who has been married to a South African for less than 5 years, but in turn, permanent residence can only be applied for once the couple have been married for 5 years or more. An excellent tip would be: it is safer to apply for temporary residence first (whether married for more or less than 5 years), as permanent residence takes approximately 18 months (these timescales are not guaranteed), therefore the foreign spouse would be legal to reside in South Africa, whether applying for permanent residence or not.
What is a South African Life-Partner permit?
This permit is practically the same as a spousal permit, but the partner (not spouse) of a South African who has been in a permanent relationship will be required to apply for a life-partner permit. In order to receive this permit, documentation would need to be submitted as proof that the relationship has existed for the said number of months/years. A temporary residence permit can be issued to the foreign life-partner of the South Africa who has been in a relationship for less than 5 years (as with the spousal permit). Permanent Residence can only be applied for once the partners have been in a permanent relationship for 5 years or more. As with the spousal permit, it would be best to apply for temporary residence first, as permanent residence takes approximately 18 months (these timescales are not guaranteed), therefore, allowing the partner to reside with the South African legally while waiting to apply or receive a result from permanent residence.
South Africa has a diverse constitution; therefore, same-sex relationship partners or civil union partners are able to apply for South African spousal or life-partner permits.
Can a Foreigner Work/Operate a Business/Study on a South African Spousal / Life-Partner Permit?
It is a hug advantage and beneficial to obtain a South African spousal or life-partner temporary residence permit, as foreigners who are on these permits are able to work, operate a business or study in South Africa with the correct endorsement. This permit negates the need for work permits and business permits to be applied for and all the vast number of documentation that is required. While these spousal or life-partner permit endorsements require on a few additional documents to enable the foreigner to work/operate a business or study in South Africa.
Tips: If a foreigner will be working, operating a business or studying in South Africa, it is best to know exactly what you want, as these endorsements are specific, therefore, the name of employer/business or educational institution will be mentioned on the permit, not allowing the foreigner work for another company, operating a different business or studying with a different institution, without re-applying (with an entirely new application) for a new specific endorsement on the spousal or life-partner permit.
What is the length of these permits and can these permits be extended?
The length of the temporary residence permit is decided by the Department of Home Affairs, these permits can be issued for a period between 1 – 3 years. Yes, the South African spousal or life-partner temporary residence permits can be extended at the end of their validity, provided that the proof of relationship or marriage certificate is submitted with the extension application.