The Department of Home Affairs has resumed permanent residence applications at the beginning of 2022 and a lot of people are asking themselves whether it is time to apply for permanent residence. In this article we address the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining permanent residence in South Africa.

Advantages

Let us start with the advantages:

  1. Security from future law changes. The South African immigration laws have not changed a lot over the past 20 years, but there have been two fundamental changes. Having permanent residence gives you the great advantage of no longer being affected by changes in the qualifying criteria for a work or business visa.
  2. On the job market you are seen as equal to a South African citizen. Having permanent residence places you on a more-or-less equal footing with South African citizens (there are a few exceptions, such as the right to vote and the ability to obtain a passport). Most importantly, with regards to the job market you are counted as a South African (not a foreigner) and your status is no longer linked to a specific employer or occupation type, therefore positioning you freely on the South African job market.
  3. Feeling at Home in South Africa. On an emotional side, obtaining permanent residence in South Africa provides you with the confirmation and security of belonging to South Africa, as you will no longer have a temporary status. In many cases, permanent residence enables a person to match their legal status with the feeling of home they already have for South Africa.
  4. Banking and Finance. A great practical advantage of permanent residence in South Africa relates to the terms and conditions you can obtain, for example when borrowing money to buy property. Foreigners on a temporary status can usually only bond for 50% of the property value, whereas South African citizens and permanent residents can borrow against a higher percentage, depending on their income.
  5. You will get an ID number. If you are already living in South Africa, you will have experienced the many practical situations where you are asked for an ID number. As a permanent residence you will get a non-citizen ID number, which makes your practical life in South Africa much easier.
  6. Your family members qualify. If you have permanent residence, your immediate family will also qualify for permanent residence. This includes not only your partner and children, but also your parents. In addition, you will have the advantage, that family members within the second step of kinship will be able to obtain a temporary residence visa to live with you in South Africa.
  7. Your partner can start working in South Africa. Even before your partner obtains their own permanent residence, they will be able to apply for a temporary residence visa with a permission to work or even conduct their own business in South Africa. This is a great advantage and important milestone for many families to truly become settled in South Africa.

Disadvantages:

The good news is that there is only one main disadvantage associated with obtaining permanent residence – taxation. If you have considerable assets offshore, you may prefer not to become a permanent residence holder, due to the possibility of being taxed for your world-wide income by South Africa. This is not an automatic link, therefore if this is a concern for you, we recommend that you reach out to a tax consultant, to determine whether permanent residence will result in tax disadvantages for you.

Is it time to apply for Permanent Residence?

Do the advantages of permanent residence sound attractive to you? We will be happy to assist you with any further questions and in the process of obtaining permanent residence in South Africa.

If you would like to know more about living in SA permanently, please contact us!

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Written by: Hannah Mminele