Spousal Visa Renewal in South Africa
Spousal permit renewal in South Africa is the process of extending the legal permission for non-South African spouses of citizens or permanent residents to stay in the country.
To be eligible for renewal, the applicant must meet certain criteria such as maintaining their relationship with their partner, meeting minimum financial requirements, and providing required documentation.
The application process can be complex and time-consuming, with various fees and costs associated with it.
Failure to comply with the conditions of the spousal visa or provide accurate information can result in visa denials or other consequences.
Importance of Understanding the Process
Understanding the spousal visa process is crucial for non-South African spouses of citizens or permanent residents in South Africa.
It ensures that they meet the eligibility criteria, provide the required documentation, and comply with the conditions of their visa.
Failing to understand the process can lead to delays, visa denials, or other consequences.
Therefore, it is important to familiarize oneself with the renewal process to ensure a smooth and successful renewal, enabling the continuation of the spousal relationship and legal stay in the country. We have previously written about the temporary spouse visa South Africa requirements.
Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Visa Extension
To be eligible, the applicant must meet certain criteria.
These include maintaining the relationship with the South African citizen or permanent resident spouse, providing proof of cohabitation, meeting the minimum financial requirements, and having a valid passport.
Additionally, the applicant must have complied with the conditions of their previous visa and not pose a threat to South African security or health.
Failure to meet these criteria can result in visa renewal denials and other consequences. Therefore, it is important to understand the eligibility criteria before applying for a renewal.
Requirements for Spouses of South African Citizens or Permanent Residents
To apply for the visa, certain spousal visa South Africa requirements must be met, including:
- Completing the online form as handwritten forms are not accepted.
- Possessing a valid passport with an expiration date of at least 30 days after the intended date of departure from South Africa.
- Applying in person at least 60 days before the visa’s expiry date or seven working days before if the visa was issued for less than 30 days.
- Providing a yellow fever vaccination certificate if the applicant has travelled or intends to travel from or transit through a yellow fever endemic area.
- Submitting an original police clearance certificate from each country where the applicant has resided for 12 months or more after turning 18, except for South Africa.
- Paying a biometric enrolment fee.
- Providing a medical report not older than six months and a radiological report (except for children under 12 years or pregnant women).
- Submitting a marriage certificate or proof of official recognition of a foreign spousal relationship, where applicable.
- Providing an affidavit, documentation proving cohabitation, and financial responsibility details (where applicable) for a spousal relationship with a South African citizen or resident. Remember to include sample letter of support for spouse visa south africa.
- Submitting any relevant divorce decrees, court orders, death certificates, or adoption proof.
- Proving kinship with a South African citizen or permanent resident through an unabridged birth certificate and, if necessary, paternity test results.
- Providing proof of financial assurance, as determined by the Minister in the Gazette.
- Paying the applicable fee.
Proof of Relationship and Cohabitation
To apply for a visa renewal, applicants must provide evidence of their relationship and cohabitation with a South African citizen or permanent resident.
This may include a marriage certificate or official recognition of a foreign spousal relationship.
Additionally, applicants must provide documentation that proves the extent to which financial responsibilities are shared by both parties and the particulars of any children in the relationship.
Minimum Financial Requirements
The minimum financial requirement for a spousal visa extension in South Africa is currently set at 8500 ZAR per month.
Applicants must provide proof of meeting this financial threshold, either through current salary advice or a certified bank statement not older than three months.
Note that this requirement may be subject to change and it is important to confirm the current threshold at the time of application.
Understanding the Application Process
The spouse visa application process in South Africa can be complex and time-consuming.
It involves submitting various documents and meeting specific requirements.
Applicants must ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria and have all the necessary documents before submitting their application.
The application process includes completing the online application form on the VFS website, providing biometric data, obtaining police clearance certificates, providing proof of cohabitation and financial support, and paying the application fee.
It is important to understand the process thoroughly to avoid rejection of the application.
The Application Process:
1. Collect the documentation: Before starting the application process, it’s important to gather all the required documents. These may include a valid passport, a completed application form, a police clearance certificate, a medical report, a radiological report, proof of relationship and cohabitation, proof of financial means, and proof of payment of the application fee.
2. Prepare the application: Once you have all the required documents, you should prepare your application. This involves completing the application form, ensuring that all information is accurate and up-to-date, and attaching all necessary documents.
3. Schedule the application with VFS: The next step is to schedule an appointment with VFS, which is the visa facilitation service provider. You can do this online through the VFS website, and you’ll need to choose a date and time that is convenient for you.
4. Include the VFS appointment letter within the application: Once you have scheduled your appointment, you’ll need to print out the VFS appointment letter and include it with your application. This letter confirms your appointment date and time, and without it, your application may not be accepted.
5. Submit your application on the chosen date and time: On the day of your appointment, you’ll need to bring your completed application form, all supporting documents, and the VFS appointment letter to the VFS office. A VFS agent will check your documents and accept your application if everything is in order.
6. Collect your outcome from VFS: After your application has been submitted, you’ll receive a tracking number that you can use to check the status of your application online. Once your application has been processed, you’ll be notified by VFS and can collect your passport with the new visa from the VFS office.
Fees and Costs Associated:
The spousal visa application process incurs various fees and costs.
Applicants are required to pay a fee of 1550 Rand to VFS Global, the visa facilitation service provider appointed by the Department of Home Affairs.
Additionally, a fee of 185 Rand is required for a South African police clearance certificate, which can be obtained through VFS.
Applicants may also need to complete a medical examination as per the requirements of the Department of Home Affairs, which may incur further costs.
It is important to note that these fees and costs are subject to change and should be confirmed with the relevant authorities at the time of application.
Common Issues and Challenges With The Visa
Visa renewal applications can be denied for various reasons, including but not limited to:
- Failure to meet the eligibility criteria and requirements for the visa: If the applicant does not meet the eligibility criteria and requirements for the spousal visa renewal, their application will be denied.
- Submission of incomplete or inaccurate documentation: If an applicant submits incomplete or inaccurate documentation, the Department of Home Affairs may deny the application.
- Negative results from a security or background check: If an applicant has a criminal record or poses a security risk to South Africa, their application may be denied.
- Overstaying a previous visa or violating immigration laws: If an applicant has overstayed a previous visa or violated immigration laws, their renewal application may be denied.
- Lack of financial support or assurance: If an applicant does not meet the financial requirements for the spousal visa extension or is unable to provide sufficient financial support or assurance, their application may be denied.
- Health concerns or failure to meet the medical requirements: If an applicant has health concerns or fails to meet the medical requirements for the spousal visa renewal, their application may be denied.
- Previous visa violations or deportations: If an applicant has violated a previous visa or has been deported from South Africa or another country, their application may be denied.
- Insufficient proof of the relationship with the South African citizen or permanent resident: If an applicant fails to provide sufficient proof of their relationship with the South African citizen or permanent resident, their application may be denied.
How to address and overcome these issues
Here are some potential ways to address and overcome the common issues that can lead to visa renewal denials:
- Ensure that all eligibility criteria and requirements for the visa are met before applying.
- Double-check all documentation for completeness and accuracy before submission.
- If a security or background check is conducted, ensure that all relevant information is disclosed and be prepared to provide additional documentation if necessary.
- Avoid overstaying previous visas or violating immigration laws.
- Provide sufficient financial support or assurance by submitting current salary advice or a certified bank statement not older than three months at the time of application.
- Meet the medical requirements by completing all necessary medical examinations and obtaining required medical certificates.
- Disclose any previous visa violations or deportations and explain if necessary.
- Provide sufficient proof of the relationship with the South African citizen or permanent resident by including an unabridged birth certificate and any other required documentation.
Appealing for a Rejected Spouse Permit
If a spousal visa renewal application is denied, there are several options available for the applicant. One option is to appeal the decision. The appeal process will depend on the specific reasons for the denial and if you have grounds to appeal it.
In South Africa, the applicant can appeal to the Department of Home Affairs within a certain 10 business days after receiving the denial. The appeal process can be complex and requires the expertise of an immigration lawyer.
Another option is to explore alternative visas or permits that may be available. For example, the applicant may be eligible for work visas like a critical skills work visa, intra-company transfer visa or general work visa, study permit, or business visa. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine the best course of action based on the individual’s specific circumstances.
It is important to note that if the applicant’s visa has expired and they are still in the country, they may be at risk of being deported. It is essential to address the situation as soon as possible and seek professional advice to avoid any legal repercussions. Remember to have a valid visa at all times.
Maintaining Your Visa Status in South Africa
Maintaining your visa status in South Africa is important to avoid any legal consequences or complications. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Keep your passport valid: Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your intended stay in South Africa. Make sure to renew it before it expires.
- Adhere to the conditions of your visa: Make sure you understand the conditions of your visa and comply with them. For example, if your visa allows you to work in South Africa, make sure to only work in the job specified in your visa.
- Report any changes in your circumstances: If your circumstances change, such as getting married or divorced.
- Leave South Africa before your visa expires: Make sure to leave South Africa before your visa expires to avoid overstaying and facing penalties or being barred from entering South Africa in the future.
- Renew your visa on time: If you plan to stay in South Africa for an extended period, make sure to renew your visa on time to avoid any legal issues.
By following these guidelines, you can maintain your visa status in South Africa and avoid any legal complications.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can I work, study or start my own business on a spousal visa?
Yes, with a spousal visa in South Africa, you are allowed to work, study or open a business. However, you must apply for a work endorsement, study endorsement or business endorsement. The section 11(6) immgration act South Africa will give you more information.
- Can I travel outside of South Africa while my visa is being renewed?
If your spousal visa has expired and you are in the process of renewing it, you cannot travel outside of South Africa until your new visa has been approved and issued. However, if your current spousal visa is still valid, you can travel outside of South Africa and return as long as you have the appropriate travel documents and meet all entry requirements for the destination country.
- What if my relationship ends during the renewal process?
If a spousal relationship ends during the visa renewal process, it may affect the outcome of the application. If the couple is in the process of divorce, the applicant may need to wait for the outcome of the visa renewal before applying for a new visa that they qualify for based on their current circumstances. It is important to communicate any changes in relationship status to the relevant authorities and seek legal advice if necessary.
- When do I qualify for a permanent residence permit?
According to the South African Immigration Act, if you have been in a spousal relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident for a continuous period of five years, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in South Africa. However, you would still need to meet all the other eligibility criteria and requirements for the permanent residence permit. It is important to note that the 5-year period must be continuous, and any breaks in the relationship may affect your eligibility. When applying for permanent residency you must keep your spousal visa valid at all times.