Frequently Asked Questions
We answer the most frequently asked questions about De Saude Darbandi Attorneys’ legal services, pertaining in particular to South African immigration and citizenship law.
How do I know if I am eligible for South African citizenship?
What happens if any of my applications are refused?
What if I don’t have all the necessary documentation for my applications?
Do I have to go to court if any of my applications are turned down?
How long does it typically take to have immigration and citizenship matters resolved?
The time frames for the adjudication of applications vary, however the following timeframes can be used as a guideline:
Visa applications should be processed within a period of 2 – 3 months. Practically, applications filed abroad may take between 5 – 60 days on average and 30 – 60 days on average, if filed locally.
Passport documents are retained when visa applications are made abroad, but not in South Africa.
Permanent residence applications should be processed with in a period of 8 months. However, most of these applications are processed within a period of 24 months on average.
It is not advisable to file permanent residence applications at foreign missions abroad. The applicant should endeavour to file these applications in South Africa, the processing of which (regardless of where filed) takes place at the Hub in Pretoria.
Regulatory waivers take on average 4 – 8 months.
Exemption applications take on average 8 – 24 months.
Applications to uplift a declaration of desirability can take between 1 – 12 months on average (depending on the reason for the declaration).
Non-prohibition applications can take between 12 – 24 months on average.
Permanent residence verification, confirmation, rectification, determination of status and citizenship applications may take on average 4 – 12 months.
Regularisation applications take on average 1 – 10 months.
What is the process for applying for a temporary visa and for a permanent residence permit?
The first step is to determine whether you qualify for a temporary residence visa or permanent residence permit. Once a favourable determination has been made, you will need to collate the necessary information/documentation to submit for processing.
I am illegal and want to regularise my status. What do I need to do?
You have the option of regularising your status inside or outside the borders of South Africa as explained below.
(i) Outside South Africa
Any foreigner who departs South Africa without a valid visa will be declared undesirable and banned from returning for 1 – 5 years.
You may, for good cause, apply to uplift the ban, the processing of which may take 1 – 5 months on average.
Once the ban is uplifted, you may apply for a visa at the South African mission in your country of origin, enabling you to return to South Africa
(ii) Inside South Africa
You will need to make an application to the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs, requesting authorisation to remain in South Africa and permission to apply for a visa after the expiry of your current visa.
You must prove by way of documentation that you are in South Africa without valid status for reasons beyond your control and that you are in a position to immediately apply for a visa.
The processing of the aforementioned process takes on average 1 – 10 months.
Once your application has been favourably considered, you may submit your application for a visa, provided that your required documentation is still valid.
I am married to a South African – what visa do I qualify for?
A foreigner not married to a South African must prove that he/she has been cohabitating with their South African life partner for at least two years preceding the date of filing either of the aforementioned applications.
If the foreigner has been married to or cohabitating with (or a combination of both) the South African for no less than 5 years, the foreigner may also apply for and acquire South African permanent residence.
I have South African children or parents – do I qualify for a visa?
Yes. The parents or children of a South African may apply for and acquire a relative visa, which is valid for a maximum period of 2 years, and is renewable.
How do I apply for South African citizenship?
Once the determination has been made, and the required documents have been collated, the application must be submitted at the Citizenship section of the Department of Home Affairs for processing.
What are critical skills work visas?
I am under the age of 25 years and want to work in South Africa. What is the process I need to follow?
It is important to note that the holder of an exchange visa in this category will not qualify for a permanent residence permit within 2 years after the expiry of the exchange visa.
If, however, the applicant intends on working in South Africa for more than 1 year, it will be necessary to apply for a different type of work visa.
Where must I submit my visa application?
Applications filed abroad must be submitted at the South African mission/VFS Centre closest to your place of usual residence or in your country of origin.
Must I submit my visa application in person?
I have been banned from South Africa – what am I to do?
I am a prohibited person. Can I come back to South Africa?
Can I sue the Department of Home Affairs?
Can I submit my visa application in South Africa?
In the case of a “renewal” and/or “extension” of an existing visa, the applicant may file his/her application in South Africa 60 days prior to the expiry of the current visa, except in the case where a person is issued with a visa valid for 30 days. In this case, the renewal application must be made 7 working days prior to the expiry of the visa.
In the case of a “renewal” and/or “extension” of an existing visa, the applicant may file his/her application in South Africa 60 days prior to the expiry of the current visa, save in the case where a person is issued with a visa valid for 30 days, only in which case the renewal application must be made 7 working days prior to the expiry of the visa.
Will I be able to travel while awaiting the outcome of my application?
If your application was submitted abroad, you may travel to South Africa if your passport document has not been retained, or if you hold a second passport enabling you to travel, and if such passport is from a visa-exempt country.
If your application is submitted abroad you may travel to South Africa if your passport document is not retained or in the event that you hold a second passport enabling you to travel.