After years of waiting, you’ve received the outcome of your permanent residence application. You open the envelope with bated breath…and you’re elated to see that the wait was worth it. Your PR has been approved!

But, “What happens now”?

This is a question we get often from our clients. Some aren’t sure if there’s anything left to do while others don’t know their rights and responsibilities as South African permanent residents.

The good news is that you’ve put all the hard work behind you once you get your PR status. There is very little left to do and you enjoy just about every right that citizens do.

We’re going to explore this in detail below by answering these questions:

  • What is permanent residence?
  • What serves as proof of my PR status?
  • What are the benefits of being a permanent resident?
  • What are my rights?
  • What are my responsibilities?

What is ‘South African permanent residence’?

Permanent residence entitles you, the immigrant, to stay and reside in South Africa indefinitely although you are not a citizen. You’ll usually apply for permanent residence after obtaining temporary residence.

What serves as proof of my PR status?

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) issues all successful permanent resident applicants with a PR certificate as proof of their status within South Africa.

Please note that your PR certificate is only issued once. We recommend that you carry a certified copy while keeping the original in a safe place. The only instance where you must show the original is when you travel internationally.

Should you lose your PR certificate, you’ll be able to apply for a Proof of PR. This Proof of PR will take 6 to 12 months to process. Instead of a certificate, you’ll receive a letter issued by the DHA to confirm your PR status.

What are the benefits of being a permanent resident?

Life as a South African permanent resident is so much simpler than as a temporary resident! Here’s why we say this:

  • You are free to apply for jobs, move freely between employers, and change job titles.
  • You can take up any sort of studies, even part-time or short courses.
  • You can set up a business without having to first apply for a business visa.
  • Visa applications and renewals, and the uncertainty surrounding them, are a thing of the past!

In addition to this, your first-kin family members can also apply for permanent residence based on your status. These family members are your spouse or life partner, children, and parents.

Please note that your children born in South Africa after you’ve received PR do not automatically get South African citizenship or permanent residency. Instead, your children are eligible to apply for relatives’ temporary and permanent residence based on your PR status. This should be done once your child’s birth has been registered and you’ve received their passport from your home country.

We wrote extensively about this topic on our blog. Read the article here.

What are my rights?

Once you have PR, you enjoy most of the rights of a South African citizen. You’ll however not be able to obtain a South African passport and you also won’t be able to vote in South African government elections. These rights are reserved for South African citizens only.

What are my responsibilities?

While your permanent resident status does not expire and remain valid indefinitely, you must enter South Africa once every three years and present yourself at the border as a permanent resident to retain your PR. The DHA may withdraw your status if you leave South Africa for 3 years or longer.

In the following instances, you’ll have to confirm that you still meet the permanent resident requirements:

  • Business: You’ll have to do a ‘confirmation business’ within two years of receiving PR and again three years after the first confirmation. You’ll have to prove that:
    • You’ve made the stipulated investment in the business.
    • The business is still running.
    • You’re still employing the required number of South Africans.
  • Spousal and life partner: You must be able to prove to the DHA that the marriage or partnership is still valid, genuine and of a lasting nature around the 2-year mark after receiving your PR status.

Aside from these responsibilities you’ll also have the right to apply for your South African Identity Document (ID) and obligation to apply for a SA driver’s license.

Applying for your ID

Your South African ID is important if you intend to live in South Africa permanently. Without an ID number, you may not be able to, for instance, apply for a credit card or a bond, or take out a cell phone contract.

Intergate does not assist with ID applications, but you can read more about applying for your ID on the DHA’s website.

Applying for your driver’s license

You must convert your foreign driving license to a South African one within a year of receiving your PR status. If you fail to do this, your driver’s license will be regarded as invalid.

Intergate does not assist with converting or applying for driver’s licenses. You can get more information on how to convert your license on the South African government website.

There is not much left to do after becoming a South African permanent resident, apart from applying for your ID and driver’s license. You’ll be free to come and go as you please. It’s easy to see why applying for permanent residence is undertaken by many temporary residents despite the long waiting periods!


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