My experience processing a Permanent Residence to live in South Africa

My experience processing a Permanent Residence to live in South Africa

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South Africa is an amazing country and if you want to live there and experience all of its beauty, there are several ways in which you can obtain a Permanent Residence:

  • With critical skills
  • With quota work permit
  • Business
  • Refugee
  • Applicant who has retired
  • Financial independent applicant
  • Relative of a South African citizen or permanent residence holder
  • General work permit
  • Spouse married for a minimum of five years
  • Dependent of a South African citizen or permanent residence holder under the age of 18 years (minor)
  • Dependent of a South African citizen over 21 years

My friend Kiril from Ukraine started to work in South Africa with a Critical Skills visa as a Business Analyst and a couple years after he arrived he processed his Permanent Residence (if you are interested in obtaining a Critical Skills Work visa you can read the post My experience processing a Critical Skills Visa to work in South Africa).

In this post Kiril explains us which are the requirements to process the Permanent Residence, his experience, and recommendations. He arrived to live in Cape Town so you will also get to see many amazing pictures of his life in this awesome city.

Permanent Residence - Critical Skills Visa - Cape Town - South Africa
Secret Beach near Simons Town, Cape Town

1. When I found out about the Permanent Residence

If you have a Critical Skills Visa and a permanent job in South Africa, you are lucky because this gives you the perfect opportunity to apply for a Permanent Residence straight away. I wish this was something I knew when I came to Cape Town 3 years ago.

However, the first year I was too busy organizing my life in South Africa. But, I remember the day when a friend told me that with my Critical Skills visa I can apply for Permanent Residence without waiting 5 years like it is with a General Work Permit.

This was enough for me to start researching about this opportunity straight away. As many of you would think, I also hardly believed that after only one year of living in the country I could apply to be a permanent resident which would give me almost the same rights as South African citizens.

Therefore, I imagined this process as extremely difficult and time consuming; and I also doubted that it was feasible to do it on your own.

Rock Climbing, Cape Town

2. You do not need an immigration agency

So my first step was to check with one of the agencies that provide assistance with immigration which costs would it involve, whether my visa will give me such opportunity for real and how much time would it take. I made an appointment with an agency and wanted to proceed ASAP.

At first, the agency did not want to give me too much information. They requested me to send them my South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) certificate, Institute of Business Advisors (IBA) documents, copies of my passport, visa and diploma to check whether I was applicable for the Permanent Residence.

Shortly, they kindly confirmed that I could apply. I was really excited until the moment they told me that the price was $12,500 ZAR = $1,050 USD. For me it was a bit pricey even though I understood the whole spectrum of possibilities that the Permanent Residence provided.

After that, I started negotiating. This also included queries to understand what exactly was the agency going to do. They were not very reluctant to provide such information, however at the end they sent me the list of documents to apply.

Permanent Residence - Critical Skills Visa - Cape Town - South Africa
Birthday, Cape Town

3. All the documents you need to gather

You can find the complete list on the South African Department of Home Affairs Website, this one is a summary and I have separated the documents in categories so you can quickly know what would you have to gather:

General Documents

  • VFS appointment letter.
  • A duly completed online DHA-947 form.
  • Payment of the application fee of 2,870 ZAR = 242 USD.
  • Original passport and a recent, passport-type, full face photograph bearing your name on the reverse side.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Original Police clearance certificate of each country where you resided for 12 months or longer after the age of 18 years except for South Africa. South African police clearance will be validated upon biometric enrolment at the VFS center at a fee of 175 ZAR = 15 USD.

Medical Documents

  • Radiological report not older than six (6) months.
  • Medical report not older than six (6) months.
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate if you travelled or intend travelling from or transit through a yellow fever endemic area.
  • Biometric enrolment fee.
  • Present yourself for biometrics at the visa facilitation center.

Work Related Documents

  • Critical skills visa.
  • Proof that you fall within the critical skills category as per prescribed list.
  • Offer of employment in the form of a contract of employment.
  • A letter from your employer confirming your current employment, which is not older than six months.
  • Certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognized by South African Qualification Authority (SAQA).
  • Proof of qualifications evaluated by the SAQA.
  • Proof of post qualification experience of at least five years.
  • Testimonials from previous employers.
  • Comprehensive curriculum vitae.
  • A letter of motivation indicating the critical skills that you possess will be to the benefit of the South African environment in which you intend to operate and which relates to the critical skill in question.

Optional (depending on your case)

  • Marriage certificate or proof of relationship in respect of a spouse accompanying you or joining you in the Republic.
  • Divorce decree or death certificate.
  • Proof of financial support to each other.
  • Proof of parental responsibilities in respect of dependent children accompanying you or joining you in the Republic.
  • A deed poll in the case you have changed your name, surname or sex.

I carefully went through the whole list and realized that most of the documents were the same I have already collected for my Critical Skills Visa and I was only missing the application itself and a motivation letter.

Taking this into account I started to question whether there is any additional value to pay the agency for only helping me to fill the application form and coordinate the process.

Finally, the agency agreed to a 3,000 ZAR discount reducing the total price to 9,500 ZAR. But, there was still the additional costs of 2,870 ZAR for submitting the application; making it a total of 12,370 ZAR = 1,042 USD.

However, by that time I have already gained confidence that I can do it by myself. I just needed to collect the same documents once again since most of them have already expired.

Permanent Residence - Critical Skills Visa - Cape Town - South Africa
Hout Bay, Cape Town

4. Collecting all the documents

These are all the steps I took to collect the documents I was missing:

  • I applied for Police Clearance in South Africa. This was a nightmare since it takes ages to get it from Johannesburg. You can’t use standard post but you can use courier (which is very expensive). This process was the longest and took about 2 months. So it was good that this was my first step and after that I started work ing on my other documents.
  • I went to my home country to get the Police Clearance.
  • I went to the doctor to obtain the medical report along with radiological report.
  • I took my birth certificate and translated it (the translation had to be certified).
  • After I had all the necessary documents from my home country I came back to South Africa to finish the process.
  • I got the confirmation from my employee that I work there.
  • I collected the documents that I have already received while applying for Critical Skills Visa which were: SAQA, IBA certificates plus the recommendations from my previous employees.
  • I wrote the most updated CV.
  • I took the permanent work contract from my work.
  • I wrote my motivation letter explaining why I needed the Permanent Residency (this was very short but up-to-the point).
  • Finally, when I had all the documents and my South African Police Clearance arrived I started filling out the application.
Rock Climbing, Cape Town

5. Filling the application form

The application mostly repeated all the information that you have already gathered from certificates, recommendations and job offer and is not very difficult. However, it has to be carefully written not to have any mistakes.

My mistake cost me too much. When I submitted my application I chose “Work Visa” instead of “Critical Skills Visa” and as a result the whole application was not valid. Just as a reminder, the application fee is 2,870 ZAR = 242 USD. I had to request a refund (which was not a full refund) and submit application once again.

Permanent Residence - Critical Skills Visa - Cape Town - South Africa
Big Bay, Cape Town

6. Application Time

The whole process starting with the research I did, applying for the South African Police Clearance and going back to my home country was 3 months.

When you start the process, don’t forget that some documents like the police clearance and medical reports are only valid for 6 months.

Silo District, Cape Town

7. Obtaining my Permanent Residence

Then I just needed to wait. I thought it would take ages as South African authorities can be very bureaucratic. But my surprise was that after 3 months I got a message saying that my Permanent Residence document was ready for collection.

This was one of the happiest days here. Since then I haven’t needed any visa and have had the same rights as South African citizens except that I cannot vote.

Permanent Residence - Critical Skills Visa - Cape Town - South Africa
Camps Bay, Cape Town

8. Obtaining my South African ID

This however was only the beginning since I also needed to apply for a South African ID document. Getting the ID took me 6 months, much longer than getting the Permanent Residence.

Nevertheless, the hustle really was worth it and I highly recommend you to apply for a Permanent Residence if you have the opportunity. Now I can look for opportunities abroad knowing that I can always come back to my second home, Cape Town, the most beautiful city in the world.

Twelve Apostoles, Cape Town

Are you interested in finding opportunities to go abroad? In the Scholarships Finder you can find a wide list of scholarships, work opportunities, volunteer projects, contests, entrepreneurial support, and virtual courses!

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  1. Philisiwe
    12/12/2018 / 1:01 AM

    Good information

    I currently possess a critical skills visa and working in South africa already. I now want to apply for prmanent residence.

    Can someone assist me with just a sample letter for the following:

    1. Letter of motivation indicating that my critical skills will be of benefit to South africa
    2. Testimonial from employer
    I want to make sure that these letters are worded correctly to avoid being rejected.

    Thank so much!!!!

  2. Maya
    08/11/2018 / 4:48 AM

    I don’t think it easy. I apply for south Africa permanent residents since 2014 and then I have to apply in year 2016 I still not get.vfs said I must wait until they said I can collect. If not I have to apply for another visa for background. This it sh!!!!!!!

  3. Lokesh
    14/10/2018 / 5:56 AM


    I dont have permanent job. but i have 1 year contract position and i do pay taxes as per slabs.

    So, is there any difficulties while getting PR, or its just matter of employment.

  4. 10/04/2018 / 11:26 PM

    Such a beautiful place! That is such an extensive process to get citizenship.

  5. 10/04/2018 / 8:25 PM

    I love reading posts about visa applications. But it’s the first time I happen to find one about South Africa. Very interesting and it was a quite fast process! Thanks for sharing guys!
    Pilar your website is looking amazing! I was already a fan and didn’t even think it could look better. But you’re doing an amazing job! You rock!

  6. 09/04/2018 / 10:00 PM

    Wow this is a very involved process but I guess it is anywhere you try to make permanent residence. Glad you were able to get it done with your critical skills. The scenery there is amazing. I am the only person in my family to not have visited…yet. Can’t wait to make some memories of my own in Cape Town.

  7. Crystal Marie
    09/04/2018 / 2:03 PM

    It is so beautiful there. Man, that’s a long process to get citizenship.

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