Everything You Need To Know About The Spousal Visa For South Africa
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What Is A Spousal Visa?
A spousal visa in South Africa is a vital document for couples who wish to live together in South Africa. It allows the spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident to enter and reside in South Africa on a temporary or permanent basis.
Whether you are planning to relocate permanently or temporarily, a spousal visa is the key to unlocking a new life together in this beautiful country. But the process of obtaining the visa can be complex and confusing, which is why we created this comprehensive guide to help couples navigate the system and make their dreams of living together in South Africa a reality.
In this guide, we will cover everything from the eligibility requirements to the application process and tips for a successful outcome. So if you are ready to take the next step in your relationship, read on and discover how to unlock the door to a new life together.
Do not qualify for the visa? These South Africa visa types is something you can explore.
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Importance Of A Spousal Visa For Couples
The partner visa for South Africa is extremely important for couples who wish to live together in the country. This visa allows the non-South African spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident to enter and reside in the country on a temporary or permanent basis.
Without the visa, the non-South African spouse would not be able to legally reside in the country and would have to constantly renew their tourist visa for South Africa, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Additionally, the visa grants the non-South African spouse certain rights and privileges, such as the ability to start their own business, work or further their studies. It also allows couples to plan their future together, whether it be starting a family or purchasing a property together.
Obtaining a SA spousal visa can be a crucial step in the process of applying for permanent residency or citizenship. Without a valid visa, the non-South African spouse would not be able to apply for these documents.
Overall, the visa is essential for couples who wish to build a life together in the country, as it provides legal recognition of their relationship and grants them the rights and privileges necessary to make a home in SA.
What is the difference between a life partner permit and a spousal visa?
Both visas are immigration options for partners living together in a committed relationship. However, there are some differences between the two:
- A life partner permit is available to individuals in a permanent, committed relationship who are not married, while a spousal visa is available to individuals who are married.
- The life partner permit may be more extensive and take longer than a spousal visa, as it requires evidence of the length and stability of the relationship.
It is important to remember that a girlfriend or a fiancée does not qualify as a spouse.
What Are The Eligibility Requirements For The Spousal Permit South Africa
To be eligible for the visa, the foreign national must be married to a South African citizen or permanent resident.
Same-sex couples are eligible to apply for a South African spouse visa. South Africa recognizes same-sex marriages, and same-sex couples are eligible to apply for the visa in the same way as opposite-sex couples.
The following are some of the basic eligibility criteria for the visa:
- You must be legally married to a South African citizen or permanent resident.
- The couple must be able to provide evidence of the marriage such as a marriage certificate. In some countries, it is referred to as a marriage license, marriage document or know as certificate of marriage.
- The couple must be able to provide evidence of their cohabitation, such as joint bank account statements, utility bills and rental agreements.
- The couple must be able to provide proof of financial self-sufficiency, such as bank statements or employment letters.
- The foreign national must not be a prohibited person or have a criminal record also known as a certificate of no criminal record, criminal background check or a good conduct certificate in other countries.
It is important to note that the requirements may vary depending on which country you are applying from as each South African embassy, consulate or diplomatic mission might have their requirements. You might have to provide additional evidence abroad in another country.
If you do not qualify for the visa, then you can potentially qualify to apply for the life partner visa which allows non-South Africans to apply for the life partner visa based on being in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident.
Different Types Of Relationship Evidence
Proof Of Marriage
The marriage certificate is the most commonly accepted form of proof of marriage. The marriage certificate should be issued by a government authority and should be translated into English if it’s in a different language by a sworn translator.
If you got married in South Africa then you can obtain your marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.
Joint utility bills, such as electricity, water or retail accounts, can be used as evidence to prove that you are in a genuine and ongoing relationship with your spouse. These bills should be in both partners’ names and should show the same address, as this serves as proof that the couple is living together as a married couple.
It is important to note that utility bills should be recent, not older than 3 months. The immigration authorities will not accept anything older than 3 months.
In addition to the utility bills, other forms of evidence of cohabitation can include:
- Joint bank statements
- Rent or your deed documents are in both names.
Financial Requirements For The Visa
The couple has to demonstrate that the applicant and their partner have the financial means to support themselves while in the country. The specific financial requirement for the visa is about R 8,500.00 per month.
South African citizen is allowed to submit his/her bank statement if they are financially supporting you but it is generally a good idea to include your bank statements as well.
- Proof of income: This can be bank statements which have been obtained at the bank branch and must be certified. This should be recent not older than 3 months and must be certified.
- Financial Support Undertaking: This is a document that is completed by the South African partner or permanent resident, in which they undertake to financially support the foreign partner during the duration of their stay in the country.
Medical & Radiology Checks
One of the requirements is to undergo a medical examination and radiology check. The medical examination is required to ensure that the applicant is in good health and does not have any communicable diseases that may pose a risk to public health.
The radiology check is done to check for tuberculosis (TB), which is a common disease in South Africa.
The medical examination will be conducted by a doctor of your choice who must be registered and have a practice number. The doctor will check your general health and the radiology check is conducted by a radiologist which involves taking an x-ray of the applicant’s chest.
Exemptions for the Radiology Check:
- Children under the age of 12 are exempt from having to undergo an x-ray.
- Pregnant women are exempt from doing the x-ray.
It is important to note that the medical examination and radiology check are mandatory requirements for the visa for everyone else and failure to comply may result in the rejection of the application.
Also, it’s important to be aware that the medical examination and radiology check are valid for 6 months from the date of the examination, so it is important to ensure that the medical examination and radiology check are as close as possible to the date of the application.
Police Clearance Certificate:
As part of the requirements, you need to apply for a police clearance certificate from every country you have lived in since the age of 18 for 12 months or more. The purpose of the criminal check is to determine if the applicant has a criminal record and if they pose a security risk to the country.
The check is conducted by the authorities in your country and will involve having your fingerprints taken which are then used to search the criminal records database. The check will include any convictions, pending criminal cases and any history of violence.
It is important to note that providing false information or failing to disclose a criminal record can result in the rejection of the application.
If you have lived in South Africa for 12 months or more then you have to apply for a police clearance certificate from the South African Police Service (SAPS).
This report should not be older than 6 months from the date that it has been published.
The Spousal Visa Application Procedure for South Africa
Applying for a spousal visa for South Africa can be done through two different channels: at a Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) centre in South Africa, or a South African Embassy, Consulate or Diplomatic Mission Abroad.
If you are already in South Africa and your spouse is a South African citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for a spousal visa at the VFS centre. The VFS centres are located in the major cities in South Africa and are responsible for receiving and handing the outcome of your visa to you.
To apply at a VFS centre, you will need to book an appointment online, and then attend the appointment in person to submit your application and biometrics (Fingerprints and photographs).
If you are outside of South Africa, you will need to apply for the permit at a South African Embassy, Consulate or Diplomatic Mission abroad. The procedure for applying at an Embassy, Consulate, or Diplomatic Mission will vary depending on the location and you would have to contact them.
It is important to note that the requirements and supplementary documents needed for the application may vary depending on the channel you choose to apply.
It is recommended to check with the VFS centre or the South African Embassy, Consulate, or Diplomatic Mission for specific requirements and to gather all the needed documents before applying.
Documents Required For Spouse Visa South Africa
When applying for the spouse permit requirements in South Africa, you will need to submit several documents as part of your application. Some of the required documents you need to include:
- A completed online form, as a handwritten form, will not be accepted by the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa. Abroad the spousal visa application form is the DHA-1738 form to complete.
- A valid passport with at least 30 days remaining before expiry after the intended date of departure from South Africa.
- The application must be submitted in person, at least 60 days before the expiry of the applicant’s current visa (or within 7 working days if the current visa is less than 30 days).
- A yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required if the applicant has recently travelled through or transited through a yellow fever endemic area.
- Original police clearance certificates, issued within the last 6 months, from every country where the applicant has lived for 12 months or longer after turning 18 (Including South Africa if you have lived here for more than 12 months or more).
- Biometric enrolment fees must be paid.
- A medical report, no older than 6 months old, and a radiological report no older than 6 months old. (Children under the age of 12 years and pregnant women are exempt from applying for the radiological report.)
- A marriage certificate issued from the proper authorities of your country or the Department of Home Affairs if you were married here.
- A spousal affidavit and documentation of cohabitation and shared financial responsibilities for the spousal relationships including children.
- Divorce decrees, court orders, death certificates, written consent from parents, proof of adoption, legal separation orders, and proof of kinship may also be required.
- Financial assurance, in the form of 3 months’ bank statements (no older than 3 months.
Adding Dependents To Your Visa
Adding children to your visa as a dependent is possible, and you would need to provide sufficient evidence that you are indeed the parent of the child applying.
You would need one of the following:
- Birth certificates
- Consent letters from the other parent
- Adoption papers
If your child is of school-going age then they would need to apply for a student visa.
Recent Updates And Changes To The Visa
As of February 1st, 2023, it will be mandatory for both the South African spouse or life partner and the visa applicant to be present in person at the VFS appointment during the submission.
The South African spouse or life partner must sign the letter of support in front of the VFS officials, and it cannot be signed beforehand. Additionally, both the spouse or life partner and the applicant are required to submit two original passport photos as part of the application.
Timeline For Processing A Spousal Visa South Africa – Home Affairs
The processing timeline for a spousal visa in South Africa and abroad can vary depending on various factors, including the volume of applications received and the complexity of individual cases.
Typically, the processing time for a spousal visa can range from several weeks to months. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times have been disrupted and may take longer than usual.
It’s advisable to check with the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information on processing times.
Additionally, having complete and accurate documentation and meeting all eligibility requirements can help expedite the processing of your spousal visa application.
If your visa is delayed by the Department of Home Affairs, there are a few things you can do:
- Check the status of your visa online and if there are no updates, then you can email the Department of Home Affairs for an update.
- Contact an Immigration agent for South Africa: If the delay has been more than 10 months and you are unsure of how to proceed, consider reaching out to an immigration agent. An immigration agent can help you understand the situation and offer guidance on what steps you should take.
- Wait patiently: Processing times for visas can be affected by various factors, including the volume of applications, staffing levels, and current global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. If your application is delayed, it’s important to wait out the processing delay.
Tips For A Successful Application For A Marriage Visa In South Africa
Here are some tips that can help increase the chances of a successful application for a marriage visa in South Africa.
- Ensure that all the required documents are complete, accurate and up-to-date. This includes passports, police clearances, medical reports, radiology reports and financial assurance.
- Read the requirements carefully and make sure you understand them before you start. This will save you time and prevent errors.
- Gather all the required documents before applying. Make sure that all the documents are up-to-date, complete, and meet the requirements set by the Department Of Home Affairs.
- Make sure that all the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date.
- If you have any questions or doubts, reach out to an immigration agent in South Africa to take on the case for you.
- Keep a copy of all the documents and forms that you submit with your application.
- Be prepared for possible delays.
- Make sure that you meet the financial threshold for the visa. This includes providing proof of income and or financial support letter from your spouse.
- Ensure that you have enough finances to cover the government fees.
- Make sure that all supporting documents are verifiable.
- Officials in South Africa might request an interview with you and your partner, but this rarely happens.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of a successful marriage visa application for South Africa.
If your application has been rejected then you can read our visa appeal South Africa blog to give you more information about dealing with rejected visas.
The Fee Structure And Cost Of The Visa Application
The cost of the visa application varies depending if you are applying in South Africa or abroad. The fees largely depend on external factors such as the following:
- Translation services fees
- Medical exam and Radiology fees
- Issuance of a passport if applicable
- Issuance of any official documents
- Visa Facilitation Service – R 1550.00 if you are submitting in SA
- No DHA fees
Living in South Africa On Spousal Partner Visa
Living in South Africa on a spousal partner visa means that the holder of the visa is authorized to live, work, study or run their own business in the country as the spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident.
While living in South Africa, the holder of the spousal permit is expected to follow the laws and regulations of the country and maintain a valid visa. Some of the key aspects of living in South Africa on a spousal permit include:
- Business, Study or Work Endorsements: The holder is allowed to start a business, study or work providing you have applied for the endorsement with your application.
- Travel: The visa holder is allowed to travel in and out of South Africa as long as their visa remains valid. However, they are advised to check travel restrictions imposed by the country they are visiting.
- Permanent residency: After completing 5 years of marriage on the visa, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency in South Africa.
It is important to note that the above information is subject to change, and it is always advisable to check with us for the most up-to-date regulations for the visa. This temporary residence visa is valid for 2 years and can be renewed.
Rights & Responsibilities Of The Visa Holder:
A holder of the South African spousal visa has the following rights and responsibilities:
- Right to live in the country for the duration of the visa.
- Right to work, study or start their own business provided they have the endorsement.
- The right to travel freely around the country for the duration of the visa.
The visa holder has the following responsibilities:
- Obligation to obey the laws of South Africa.
- Obligation to renew the visa before it expires.
- Obligation to inform the Department of Home Affairs of any change in personal circumstances, such as marital status.
It is important to note that the holder of the visa must not engage in any activities that could compromise the security of South Africa or its people. Failure to adhere to these responsibilities could result in the revocation of the visa and deportation from the country.
Relative Spouse Visa South Africa And Working, Studying or Starting A Business
The spouse visa for South Africa is categorized under the relative’s visa and therefore you are granted a visa relative visa essentially. However, if you wish to work, study or start a business in the country, you will need to apply for the endorsement of your visa.
The endorsement will change the visa from a relative’s visa to a long-term visitor’s visa called the section 11(6) visitors visa. It is important to note that you are not allowed to work, study or start a business on a spouse visa alone.
An endorsement must be obtained to give you the right to engage in such activities while in South Africa. The endorsement can be applied for together with your application for the spouse visa in South Africa or at some South African Embassies, consulates or Diplomatic missions abroad. If this option is not available abroad then you can enter South Africa with a visitor visa and then change your status here.
You will need to provide relevant supporting documents to prove that you meet the criteria for the endorsement:
- Work – Proof of employment
- Study – Enrolment acceptance letter at an educational institution
- Business – Register your business with CIPC and SARS.
Many applicants opt to either apply for a work visa, study visa or business visa as they do not want to be dependent on their partner. However, the amount of red tape involved in getting a work visa or business visa is time-consuming and in most cases, the visa is rejected.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that the application fee varies for a work visa and the business visa as many more 3rd party processes fees are payable.
More supporting documents are needed for these visas and the additional documents that are required for the business visa are way more complex.
Spouse Visa Renewal South Africa – Extension
The renewal of a spousal permit in South Africa is very much identical to the first time you applied. You need to follow the following steps:
- Plan: It is important to plan for the spousal visa in South Africa requirements and apply for renewal or extension well before your current visa expires. You should aim to apply 60 days before the expiry of your visa.
- Gather required documents: You will need to provide the same supporting documents that you submitted with your initial SA spousal visa application, such as your valid passport, marriage certificate, proof of financial support, and a police clearance certificate.
- Apply: You can submit the renewal or extension application at a VFS centre closest to you or if you are travelling back home abroad then you can do so at the South African embassy, Consulate or Diplomatic mission.
- Pay the Fees: There is an application fee that is payable for the renewal or extension of your spousal visa. The current application fee can be obtained on VFS’s website or at the South African Embassy, Consulate or Diplomatic mission.
- Wait for processing: The spousal visa south africa processing time/waiting period for the renewal/extension can vary. This can take a few months.
Please remember that whilst you are awaiting your extension or renewal, you should not leave South Africa.
If you leave the country, you will be banned and you would have to appeal the ban before you can re-enter the country.
What happens if I divorce?
If you divorce while holding a South African spousal visa, the following may happen:
Status of visa: Your spousal visa is typically linked to your marital status, and divorce may result in the cancellation of your visa.
Time to leave the country: You may be given a certain period to leave the country, depending on the specific regulations in South Africa.
Reapplication for visa: If you wish to remain in South Africa, you may be able to apply for a different type of visa, such as a work visa or a study visa, but this would depend on your circumstances and the requirements of the South African Department of Home Affairs.
Departure from South Africa: If you are unable to obtain another type of visa, you may be required to depart from South Africa.
It’s important to note that the specifics of what happens after a divorce while holding a South African spousal visa can vary based on your circumstances and the regulations of the South African Department of Home Affairs.
It’s best to seek guidance from a qualified immigration lawyer or the Department of Home Affairs for the most up-to-date information.
Spouse Permanent Residence South Africa
In South Africa, an individual who has been married to a South African citizen or permanent resident for a continuous period of 5 years or more may qualify for a permanent residence permit. This permit allows the individual to live and work in South Africa indefinitely and gives them certain benefits and privileges as permanent residents.
To apply for the permanent residence permit, the individual must demonstrate the following:
- Proof of a valid marriage to a South African citizen or permanent resident.
- Proof of a continuous and stable marital relationship for 5 years or more.
- Proof of cohabitation, including joint bank accounts, shared living arrangements and other forms of financial interdependence.
- Proof of sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents.
- Proof of a clean criminal record.
- Proof of good health, including a medical certificate and radiological report.
The process of applying for a permanent residence permit through marriage can take several months to complete and requires strict adherence to the guidelines set forth by the Department of Home Affairs.
It is important to provide all the necessary documents and evidence to support your application. If you have any questions or concerns, it may be helpful to seek advice from a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant.
In conclusion, this is a type of visa that allows the spouse or partner of a South African citizen or permanent resident to live and reside in South Africa.
The procedure of applying for the visa requires meeting certain criteria and providing a comprehensive set of required documents, including proof of a genuine relationship, financial support, and a clean criminal record.
The processing time for the visa can vary depending on factors such as location and volume of applications. The South African Department of Home Affairs is responsible for processing the visa application and it is important to stay informed of any changes or updates.
Once the visa is granted, the holder can live in South Africa and has certain rights and responsibilities while they are here. In the event of a delay or other issue with the visa, it may be helpful to seek advice or assistance from an immigration consultant or lawyer.
Overall, obtaining a South African spousal visa is a significant step in allowing a couple to live together in South Africa and it is important to carefully consider all the requirements and follow the correct ways to ensure a successful outcome.
Using An Immigration Agent For your Visa Application
As a foreign national, applying for a spouse visa in South Africa can be an overwhelming and complicated process. There are many factors to consider, including language barriers, unfamiliarity with the country’s immigration laws, and the extensive documentation required.
Without proper guidance and support, the visa application can become stressful and time-consuming, leading to a significant delay in reuniting with your loved one.
Here’s why working with an experienced immigration agent can significantly reduce these pain points and make it easier and more manageable:
Expertise: An immigration agent has extensive knowledge of South Africa’s immigration laws and regulations and can guide you through the different stages of obtaining a spouse visa with ease. They understand the complexities of the application and can advise you on the required documents, fees, and the processing timeline.
Increased chances of success: An immigration agent is trained to identify and avoid common mistakes that can cause your visa application to be rejected. With their expertise, you can be confident that your application will be well-prepared, increasing your chances of success.
Time-saving: Applying for a spouse visa on your own can be time-consuming, especially if you are new to the country. An immigration agent can take care of all the necessary steps for you, leaving you with more time to focus on other important matters.
Avoiding frustration: Immigration can be frustrating, especially if your application is rejected. An immigration agent can guide you through the procedure and help you understand the reasons for any rejections, saving you time, frustration, and stress.
Peace of mind: Working with an immigration agent can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your application is in good hands with their immigration services. With their expertise and support, you can relax, knowing that your visa application will be processed quickly and efficiently.
In conclusion, if you are a foreign national seeking a spouse visa in South Africa, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced immigration agent. With their expertise, you can avoid common mistakes, reduce stress, and increase your chances of success when it comes to South African immigration.