My experience processing a Permanent Residence to live in South Africa

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

English  |  Español  |  Deutsch

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
  • Business
  • Refugee
  • 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.

Follow me and get notified of my newest posts and updates!
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 (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.

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 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.

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 (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).

Medical Documents

Work-Related Documents

  • 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.

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 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.
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 the 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

You may also be interested in:

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

Did you like this post? Pin it! <3

#thelifestylehunter #pilarnoriega The Lifestyle Hunter by Pilar Noriega #WorkAbroad : how to process a permanent residence to live in south africa, how to process a critical skills visa to work in south africa, cape town job, johannesburg job, work abroad, work abroad programs, work abroad career, work abroad summer, work abroad tips, how to work abroad, work abroad jobs, work motivation, work inspiration, work incentives, career, personal development, africa, visa, permanent residence

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, or Bloglovin and get notified of my newest posts and updates!



  1. El
    01/02/2020 / 9:51 AM

    Hi, can someone help me with the template of motivation letter. Here’s my email address:


  2. Tea
    02/12/2019 / 12:58 PM

    Sorry – one more question after re-reading the article 🙂

    How does one prove one’s post qualification experience of at least five years?

    Is a mention in the CV enough? I do also have a letter of recommendation.

    If anybody has any information on this, would be highly appreciated thanks very much! <3

  3. Tea
    02/12/2019 / 12:53 PM

    Does anybody know how long one must live in SA in order to apply for PR??

    Or must you simply have the critical skills visa? Thanks!! 🙂

    • Godwin
      03/08/2020 / 3:15 AM

      Having the critical skills visa (CSV) is enough. I applied for my PR just two weeks after getting my CSV and got it after 3 months.

      • Micah Ibok
        26/12/2020 / 2:42 PM

        Hello Godwin,
        Please what was the condition on your Critical Skills Visa?
        Did you you obtain the CSV without a job contract?

  4. Burimwaka
    30/08/2019 / 3:52 AM

    Thanks a lot for the informative article. I followed the procedures you listed above and I applied for my permanent residence and within 3 month it was out.

    Three days after receiving my permanent residence I went and I applied for the South African ID and within 2 month it was out. Basically for me the process took the below time line:

    1. Critical Skills – 4 Weeks
    2. Permanent Residence: 3 Months
    3. South African ID: 2 Month.

    NB: I never used any Immigration consultant. I compiled all the documents by myself.

    Good luck for those who have submitted and those who are planning to submit.

    • khalane Rapuleng
      06/12/2019 / 4:38 AM

      Good day, may I ask what you used as proof of post qualification experience?

      Kind Regards

      • Sam
        21/03/2020 / 1:39 PM


  5. Tamrie Scott
    15/06/2019 / 2:47 AM

    Hi, Great story.
    Did anyone get the template for the letter of motivation? if so please could you email me the sample @
    Thank you so much!!!!

  6. Lloyd Nkomo
    27/05/2019 / 2:49 PM

    I also need help with the letter. Please share the template. Thanks

  7. Donald
    25/05/2019 / 1:33 AM

    I currently possess a critical skills visa( Occupational Health n Safety Officer) 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(Occupational Health n Safety Officer) will be of benefit to South africa, I don’t mind to pay he/she for the letter draft out
    2. Testimonial from employer
    I want to make sure that these letters are worded correctly to avoid being rejected.
    please email or call me : emekachikezie AT and 0632255967

    Thank so much

  8. Endy
    23/05/2019 / 5:00 AM

    Good Site and very informative.

    I currently have a CSV and I am currently applying 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.

    You can email to me on

    Thank so much!!!!

  9. Kay
    02/04/2019 / 7:04 AM


    I applied for my PR in March 2018 and up to now my application is still pending. Might you know how I could expedite the application. I wrote them an email in Feb 2019 and they replied recently in March apologizing for the delay in their response, but they confirmed they logged a case for the application and asked me to get back to them in 3 weeks if no response. I did write back to them, but now its another waiting game to get response back…

  10. JB
    26/03/2019 / 6:03 AM

    Very interesting article ! Congrats Pilar 😉
    I have a CSV and I would like to apply for PR.
    My PhD gaves me a 10/10 at Saqa and it is supposed to help according to a lawyer we met.
    Have you any information about the fact that a PhD is a good way for obtaining PR ?

    • 15/05/2019 / 8:06 PM

      Yes. You can get pr with it

  11. Godwin
    22/02/2019 / 5:54 AM

    Great site, great story! My experience was very similar and I think that things get a lot easier once you obtain your critical skills visa (CSV). I applied for permanent residence a week after the CSV and got permanent residence 3.5 months later (and ID a month later). I’d encourage those with CSVs to apply for permanent residence – it’s much better than a visa!

    • Pilar
      31/07/2019 / 7:57 AM

      Hi Godwin, thank you so much for your encouraging words! 😀 It’s definitely possible to obtain a permanent residence and live in this beautiful country called South Africa! Thanks for mentioning your processing times, it was very fast in your case!

  12. Nanni
    23/01/2019 / 6:20 AM

    was it ok to submit radiological and medical report from your original country?
    Or it is mandatory to perform those examinations inside SA?

  13. 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!!!!

    • Paballo
      10/03/2019 / 2:37 PM

      Hi Philisiwe,
      Did you get any help for the motivation letter and if you did are you willing to share some tips

      • Sydney Moyo
        06/05/2019 / 5:25 PM

        Did you get the letters? If not i can help you with that

        • Endy
          23/05/2019 / 5:02 AM

          I also need that, your help will be appreciated.


        • Endy
          25/05/2019 / 2:00 AM

          Can you please help me with the letter.?

          • Lloyd Nkomo
            27/05/2019 / 2:48 PM

            I also need help with the letter. Please share the template. Thanks

        • Lloyd Nkomo
          27/05/2019 / 3:07 PM

          Hi Sydney
          Please assist with the motivation letter. Your assistance will be appreciated
          here is my email:

        • Joe Kishi
          29/06/2019 / 6:18 PM

          Need that help as well, please

      • Philisiwe
        11/06/2019 / 9:59 AM

        Never. Had to figure out something myself since I was running out of time. I submitted my application, now waiting for response.

  14. 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!!!!!!!

    • Maiky
      13/02/2019 / 2:11 AM

      Hi Maya…

      I am in the same situation.
      I have been submitted my PRP application in Feb 2016… and 3 years later.. I am still waiting for the result.
      VFS can’t help anything.. DHA either…

  15. 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.

    • 25/03/2019 / 4:27 PM

      Hi Lokesh, did you get a response/assistance?

  16. 10/04/2018 / 11:26 PM

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

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

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *