South African spousal visa explained
The Immigration Act provides for two specific types of temporary residence visas which a foreign “spouse” of a South African person may apply for.
The term “spouse” includes civil marriages as well as life-partnerships (which must be at least two years old at the time the application is made). These two visas are:
- This visa is issued for a fixed two year period, extendable. It requires a South African spouse to demonstrate the availability of at least R8,500.00 per month; to support the foreign relative over the two year period.
- This visa does not enable the foreigner to take up any form of work in South Africa.
- This visa is issued for up to three years at a time, extendable.
- The Applicant can apply for any type of business, work or study authorization on this visa without having to comply with the normal application requirements stipulated in the Immigration Act for those temporary residence visas.
- The South Africa spouse (applicable to a life partnership and not limited to marriage) does not need to demonstrate the ability to financially support the foreigner.
Changing status now possible from within South Africa. Read more here.
What is the difference between a life partner permit and a spousal visa?
The South African Immigration Act recognizes as spousal relationships good faith life-partnerships that have existed for at least two (2) years that meet the criteria of exclusivity, cohabitation and mutual financial and emotional support.
A spousal relationship is not defined in terms of the South African Immigration Act limited to marriage but is inclusive of permament homosexual or heterosexual life-partenrships.
Documentary proof of the existence of the life-partnership must be included in support of a spousal visa application. The Department of Home Affairs needs to be satisfied that the relationship exists and has exited for at least the last 2 years preceding the application.
Foreign nationals applying for a spousal based visa must take into account that sufficient proof must be included in support of the application.
If all the criteria are met by the relationship then a spousal visa and a life partner visa are the same thing.
Is a girlfriend or a fiancée a spouse?
A girlfriend or fiancée is considered a spouse only if the relationship with the South African citizen or permanent resident permit holder has exited for at least two (2) years and satisfies the criteria of exclusivity, cohabitation and mutual financial support. This must be demonstrated with the support of documentary proof.
Can I apply for a spousal visa in South Africa?
On 28 June 2019 the Constitutional Court handed down a landmark judgement declaring invalid the regulatory restrictions preventing spouses and children of South African Citizens and/or permanent residents from being able to apply for their long-term visas from within South Africa whilst on visitor visas without having to do so from their country of origin.
The foreign spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident permit holder may now apply for a spousal visa from within South Africa as long as he or she is in possession of a valid visa.
What are the requirements of a spousal visa?
A spousal visa, may this be a relative visa or a spousal based visitor visa, requires proof of the existence of the spousal relationship.
A person who is married cannot be in a good faith life-partnership with someone else.
Documents confirming marital status are required of both parties to the relationship.
How long does a spousal visa take in South Africa?
The average processing time of all temporary residence visa applications including spousal visa applications is 8-10 weeks or longer to be processed and finalised on part by Department of Home Affairs.
Can I work on a spousal visa?
Only a spousal based visitor visa issued in terms of section 11(6)(b) of the Immigration Act may allow its holder to work. The specific work endorsement is subject to the foreign spouse having secured an offer or contract of employment in South Africa.
The holder of a valid spousal visa with work authorization may work in South Africa as long as he or she complies with the specific conditions of his or her visa as endorsed on his or her passport.
Can I work on a relative visa?
The holder of a relative visa may not work or conduct any activity in South Africa. Spouses of South African citizens or permanent residents who intend to work or conduct own businesses must apply for a visitor visa with work or business authorization.
Does the spouse of a South African need a work visa to work?
The spouse of a South African citizen of permanent resident can obtain work endorsement on a spousal visitor visa issued in terms of section 11(6)(b) of the Immigration Act.
This visitor visa is not a work category visa and does not accrue years towards an application for permanent residence on the basis of at least 5 years continuous work visas as per section 26(a) of the Act.
Can I apply for permanent residence on a spousal visa?
You are eligible to apply for permanent residence on the basis of your spousal relationship if you are the spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident of at least 5 years.
Applying for permanent residence does not exempt you from maintaining your temporary residence visa valid at all times whilst sojourning in South Africa.
What happens if I divorce and I have a spousal visa?
The fundamental basis of the spousal visa is that of allowing the foreign spouse to reside in South Africa with his or her South African spouse.
The condition of the validity of the visa is the continued existence of the marriage or good faith life partnership. This applies equally to marriages, homosexual and heterosexual relationships that are considered life-partnerhsips.
Should the relationship end: the visa lapses in law. Foreign spouses are advised to promptly act in terms of their South African visa status should the spousal relationship end.
Do I need a marriage certificate to apply for a spousal visa?
Only spouses who apply for a spousal visa on the basis of their marriage to a South African citizen or permanent resident need to include their marriage certificate in their application.
A notarial agreement is required of life-partners in support and attestation of their relationship.
Who needs to sign the application form for a spousal visa?
The applicant needs to complete the form.
Do I need a South African Police Clearance Certificate for a spousal visa?
A South African Police Clearance is required of any major applicant who has resided in South Africa for at least 12 months from turning 18 years old. This requirement is also applicable to the holder of any long term visa to South Africa renewing a visa, changing status or applying for permanent residence.
Can I change from a relative visa to a spousal visa with work?
The holder of a relative visa issued in terms of section 18 of the Immigration Act may change status from within South Africa.
The foreign spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident who has secured an offer of employment or wishes to conduct own business may apply for a spousal based visitor visa issued in terms of section 11(6)(b) of the Act.
Why does my spouse need to give financial assurance for my relative visa?
A relative visa does not allow its holder to conduct any activity in South Africa. The South African relative is required to demonstrate to be in a position to financially support the foreign relative in the Republic for the duration of the visa’s validity.
Can I renew my spousal visa if I changed partner?
A renewal application requires the foreign applicant to demonstrate to the DHA to have complied with the conditions of his or her visa and to demonstrate, at the time of the renewal application, the continued compliance with those same conditions. Proof that the relationship still exists is necessary.
The end of the previous spousal relationship would entail that the spousal visa would have ceased to be valid, thus it is not renewable.
How much does it cost for a spousal visa in South Africa?
Service and filing fees vary depending on the submission location of a visa application.
Spousal visa applications submitted in South Africa require a VFS application fee of R1,350.00 to be paid to VFS.