Immigration and Residency in South Africa

Immigration and Residency

A person’s liability for South African tax is determined by residence status. A person can be a resident or a non-resident for South African tax purposes.

A resident of South Africa is an individual who is ”ordinarily resident” in South Africa – South Africa is their true home – or a ”physically present resident” who spends more than 91 days in total in each of the current and previous five tax years and more than 915 days in total during the previous five tax years (the days need not be consecutive).

A non-resident of South Africa is generally someone who spends less than 91 days in total in each of the current and previous five tax years in South Africa.

The general rule is that a person who is a resident of South Africa is assessable on that person’s worldwide income. Non-residents are generally assessable on income derived directly or indirectly from sources in South Africa. Extended business travelers are likely to be considered non-resident of South Africa for tax purposes unless they remain in South Africa for more than five years or make South Africa their true home.

The obtaining of a temporary visa is the normal way that an immigrant will enter South Africa and obtain their first visa to allow them to reside in South Africa and carry out an activity or retire. Temporary residency visas are issued for a period of time of between 12 and 48 months depending on what type of temporary visa is applied for.

  • Temporary business visa – issued for time periods that range from a 12-month period to the expiry date of the applicant’s passport.
  • Temporary work visa – typically issued for a two-year period of time but this does depend upon the period the offer of employment is made for.
  • Temporary retired persons visa – these visa are issued in accordance with the prospective immigrant’s financial situation but are for a maximum of four years.
  • Temporary study visa – normally issued for the period of the study course.
  • Temporary spousal visa – issued for a three-year period of time.
  • Temporary life partner visa – issued for a three-year period of time.
  • Temporary relative visa – typically issued for between two and four years.
  • Temporary financially independent visa – applicants under this category are able to apply immediately for permanent residency, in the event that this process is not quick enough an application for temporary residency can be made under the retired persons visa.

Permanent residency in South Africa entitles the immigrant to stay and reside in South Africa and undertake a specified activity according to which category the permanent residency permit is issued under. Once granted, permanent residency entitles the individual to obtain a South African identity document.

The immigrant must have lived in South Africa with that visa for at least five years before applying for citizenship, and one of those years must have been the year before making the application. The other four years must have been within the eight years before making the application. This five-year period can be shortened to two years if the person is the wife or husband of a South African citizen. Permanent residency holders who are absent from South Africa for three years or longer may lose there right to permanent residency.

Other Immigrant Investor Programmes

An individual’s passport dictates where they are entitled to live, work or travel. Some passports open doors for you and family worldwide, others seriously limit your freedom of movement and may even compromise your wealth or security. Whether you are seeking to improve your ability to travel, protect your assets or retire to an exotic location, you should consider securing alternative citizenship or residency. Immigrant Investor Programmes (IIPs) allows foreign citizens to invest in return for a formal immigration status. Sovereign and its specialist external partners can guide you through the best IIPs worldwide to suit your particular circumstances and requirements.

Our list of other available IIPs includes, but is not limited to:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada (Quebec)
  • Cyprus
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • UK
  • United States

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Sovereign Trust (Gibraltar) Limited
Tel: +350 200 76173