Hi everybody, today is a very, very short video on how to obtain citizenship in South Africa.
Why apply for citizenship?
A lot of our clients might not be interested in citizenship and I think that’s the first core question or core message. You need to inquire with your country in which you hold your citizenship if you actually allowed to apply for new citizenship without losing it (your original).
There are a lot of countries which are quite liberal: France, the UK. Italy I think are quite liberal, and there are a lot of countries which are very restrictive around second passports: Germany, the Netherlands and couple of others.
So, if you would apply for naturalisation, you might lose the other Citizenship. Now, obviously, if you come from other countries, which are typically visa restricted: Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, it’s in your interest to potentially apply for South African citizenship.
What are the requirements?
So what are the requirements? Well, at the moment, and there was a lot hoo-ha in the press etc, but at the moment, it is clear that if you are in possession of a valid permanent residence for more than 5 years, you do qualify to apply for citizenship and it’s citizenship based on naturalization. That’s the important part, because there’s other ways of becoming a citizen, most likely by birth, and that’s actually an exception to this two-passport rule.
But let’s continue with the naturalisation: you need to have a permanent residence for more than 5 years. The Department of Home Affairs did publish, at some stage, regulations which require 10 years, so there was a lot of uncertainty around it, but the Act overrules the regulations, so it’s 5 years, still 5 years, and there’s a directive out which clarifies this, so it’s very clear.
However, in the near-term future, I do expect that South Africa will cut the ties between permanent residence and citizenship, at least for most categories, maybe not for critical skills or investors, but potentially for others.
The Green Paper on migration is already indicating that the Department of Home Affairs is contemplating to cut this automatic link and make it more difficult to obtain citizenship.
Should you apply?
If you qualify for citizenship, maybe it’s an idea – I applied for mine. I can vote and I bet it really makes a big difference, I know, but nevertheless, I like voting, I pay my taxes here, so I wanted it. As you can still hear I’m also a German citizen, and I had to actually apply for my retention rights in Germany first so that I didn’t lose my passport. Just always watch that, always check that with your with your embassy.
And then the citizenship application itself is fairly simple to be honest. You need a confirmation from your country or from your passport country that you are able to obtain two citizenships. That’s a very important requirement. You need the permanent residence certificate, a couple of other documents, you then go to Home Affairs and you apply for it. The processing times is faster than permanent residence, they’re usually around a year, and that’s pretty much it.
Written by Andreas Krensel