The foreign life partner of a South African citizen or permanent resident may join their loved one in South Africa by obtaining a South African Life Partner permit. This permit falls under the temporary visa classification and, with additional application, allows the bearer not only to live but also to work, study or run their own business in South Africa.
The South African constitution is considered the most progressive on the continent. This means that the South African Government does not discriminate based on religion, race, gender, age and so on. It also means that same sex unions and customary marriages are recognized by South African law and means that these partnerships enjoy the same rights as traditional heterosexual couples
** Read our section about adding working rights to your life partner visa **
How do I qualify to apply for a Life Partner permit?
In an effort to eradicate abuse of this visa the South African Government, in May 2014, started enforcing stricter policies. Essentially this means that if you are able to prove your involvement with a South African citizen spanning at least 2 years you may qualify for this visa.
What do I need to prepare in order to qualify for this Home Affairs Life Partner Visa?
It is a good idea to get the following in order before applying for this life partner visa:
- Proof that you share a home and the expenses and responsibilities associated with cohabitation. This might mean electricity and water bills. Bond documents or rental agreements
- Open a joint bank account before applying for this permit, it’s a requirement and shows that the foreign national partner is financially secure while they are in South Africa and will not be a burden to the South African social welfare system
- Proof of a longstanding relationship. This might include holiday photo’s, letters or cards from friends and family that might support your claim that you are in a serious and committed relationship.
Will my partner and I be interviewed as part of the application process?
The South African Department of Home Affairs reserves the right to conduct individual interviews with both partners and this is followed by interviewing the couple together. This process is to establish the legitimacy of the relationship and to rule out the possibility of any illegal conduct or misuse of the system.
But, since the VFS Facilitation Centers started managing the submission process of all visas and permits, immigration officials no longer conduct interviews, but may still, at any time, request a voluntary interview with any couple applying for a life partner permit.
Your visa validity
This South African Life Partner visa / permit falls under the relative’s visa stream which also qualifies it as a temporary visa with a two-year shelf life but is renewable. Ensure that you renew well in advance as remaining in the country on an expired visa will lead to deportation and a five-year ban on re-entering the country.
What is expected during the South African Life Partner visa application process?
- Collect enough evidence to support the requirement of a two-year long relationship
- All first-time applicants can apply for this permit from inside South Africa while holding a visitors visa
- Applicants already in possession of any of the temporary residency visas may apply for a change of their current visa status. This means that applicants currently in the country on, for instance, a general work visa would be able to apply for a change of status to that of a Life Partner visa.
- Speak to a professional immigration consultant about your options and about the process. This will help avoid that your application is turned down.
Can I apply for permanent residency instead?
Foreign national partners of South African citizens or permanent residents may apply for both the Life Partner Permit and South African residency simultaneously if proof exists that the relationship is at least five years old.