How long does it take to become a permanent citizen in South Africa?

This article answers the question “How long does it take to become a permanent citizen in South Africa?”. Let’s explore: Holders of permanent residence permits will be eligible for South African Citizenship through Naturalisation after 10 years.

The process of becoming a permanent citizen in South Africa typically takes between five and ten years. The specific timeframe will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of permanent residency permit you apply for.

Here’s an overview of the typical pathways and their timelines:

  1. Temporary Residence: Foreign nationals can apply for various temporary residence visas in South Africa, such as work visas, study visas, or business visas. These visas usually need to be renewed periodically and may have specific requirements depending on the type of visa obtained.
  2. Permanent Residence: There are different categories for permanent residence permits, including:
    • Direct Residency: This can be through categories such as Critical Skills, Business, or Work Visas, where after a certain period of continuous residency in South Africa, individuals may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. Typically, individuals need to have lived in the country for five years before applying for permanent residency.
    • Spousal or Life Partner Visas: If married to a South African citizen or a permanent resident, individuals can apply for permanent residence after a certain period.
    • Retirement Visa: Foreign retirees can apply for permanent residency after having held a temporary residency permit for five years.
    • Financially Independent Visa: Individuals who can demonstrate a certain level of financial independence may also apply for permanent residency.

The process for permanent residency can take several months to years, depending on the specific visa route, the backlog at the Department of Home Affairs, and the completeness of the application.

  1. Citizenship: Once an individual has held permanent residency for a certain period (usually five years), they may become eligible to apply for South African citizenship. However, the process of obtaining citizenship can take additional time due to various administrative procedures and requirements. The citizenship application process may include language proficiency tests, background checks, interviews, and more.