It seems like the global village is getting smaller every day. While many people look to emigrate from South Africa, several want to return to South Africa and struggle with regulations applying to their foreign spouses or other SA immigration issues. Below we have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that our SA immigration department receives.

Overstaying your SA visitor visa

Q: I gave up my South African citizenship some years ago. Recently, I visited my parents in South Africa. I was on a visitor visa and overstayed for a few days. I was issued with a ban, and cannot return to South Africa. What can I do?

A: You have to apply to the SA authorities based in South Africa for a ban upliftment and provide a good reason for your overstay. Not all applicants will be granted a ban upliftment, but those who do will receive written confirmation from the SA authorities that they may return to South Africa.

Applying for a South African short-term working visa

Q: An overseas colleague of mine needs to visit South Africa for a short period to work on a project I am leading. Is this possible?

A: The best would be to apply for a Section 11(2) visitor visa, which is granted for work-related activities. It may not exceed three months, but it can be extended in South Africa for a further three months if necessary. It is important to note that this visa category can only be applied for once within a 12-month cycle.

Lost South African citizenship

Q: I was born a South African but lost my citizen status. My children were born abroad after I lost my citizenship, and we now want to return to South Africa. What can we do?

A: If you lost your SA nationality status, the SA authorities must confirm the nationality status of your biological parents in writing before you may lodge an application to reinstate your citizenship. Our consultants will gladly advise in this regard.

You must also provide proof of residence in SA for a period of 12 months or more for your citizenship to be reinstated. The best option would be to apply for a South African relatives visa and include study permission if necessary. Relatives visas are issued for a period of two to three years and are extendible in SA. You must apply for the initial visa from abroad and obtain it before you travel to SA.

Foreign spouse married to South African

Q: I am married to a South African citizen and want to reside in South Africa. For which visa will I qualify?

A: Foreign nationals who are married to a SA citizen or resident, or who are in a life partnership with one, may qualify for a spousal (relatives) visa. It is issued for two to three years and can be extended in South Africa. The initial visa must be applied for from abroad and be obtained before travelling to SA; it cannot be done in SA. Permission to work can also be included if certain criteria are met.

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. For more information, please send an email to or visit the Breytenbachs website at

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants Limited
BREYTENBACHS IMMIGRATION CONSULTANTS LIMITED specialises in UK and SA Immigration. We pride ourselves on our reputation for excellence, fast results and friendly service. The consultants in the UK immigration department will be able to give you the best advice on the permit or visa that will enable you to live and work in the UK or South Africa.

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