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 a quota work permit
- An applicant who has retired
- Financial independent applicant
- Relative of a South African citizen or permanent residence holder
- General work permit
- A 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.
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 (for a Critical Skills Vise you only need to have 5 years of experience in your profession, but you could have gained that experience in any country).
This was enough for me to start researching 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.
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 Information Technology Professionals (IITPSA) 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, in the end, they sent me the list of documents to apply.
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:
- VFS appointment letter.
- A duly completed online DHA-947 form (click HERE to access VFS official website).
- Payment of the application fee of 2,870 ZAR = 242 USD (1,520 DHA application fee + 1,350 ZAR VFS service fee).
- Original passport and a recent, passport-type, full face photograph bearing your name on the reverse side.
- Birth certificate (if your birth certificate is in another language rather than English, translate it with a sworn translator).
- 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.
- Biometric enrolment fee (your fingerprints will be taken at the visa facilitation center).
- Radiological report not older than 6 months (click HERE to download the radiological report form).
- Medical report not older than 6 months (click HERE to download the medical report form).
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate if you traveled or intend traveling from or transit through a yellow fever endemic area.
- Critical skills visa.
- Proof that you fall within the critical skills category as per prescribed list (at the visa facilitation center the officer will ask you to select your Critical Skill on the 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 post-qualification experience of at least five years. Read HERE how to get it.
- Proof of qualifications evaluated by the SAQA.
- Testimonials from previous employers (reference letters).
- 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 (To write a successful letter you can read the post “5 steps to write a Letter of Motivation for a South African Permanent Residence permit“).
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.
4. Collecting all the documents
These are all the steps I took to collect the documents I was missing:
- I went to the doctor to obtain the medical report and to a laboratory to obtain the radiological report.
- A sworn translator translated to English my birth certificate.
- I wrote my most updated CV.
- I took the permanent work contract from my work.
- I got the confirmation from my employer stating that I worked there.
- I collected the documents that I have already received while applying for Critical Skills Visa which were: SAQA certificate, IITPSA Critical Skill certificate & membership plus the recommendations from my previous employees (if you need more advice on how to obtain the Critical Skills Certificate and membership, you can CLICK HERE).
- I got the Police Clearance from my country (if you still have your certificate from the time you processed your Critical Skills Visa, then you can use the same). The South African police clearance is issued at the VFS Office and you pay R175 for it.
- I wrote my motivation letter explaining why I needed the Permanent Residency (this was very short but up-to-the-point. You can see HERE an example).
- Finally, when I had all the documents I started filling out the application.
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 the application once again.
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.
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.
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.
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In the Work Abroad section, you can find more experiences earning internships and full-time job positions abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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