*Updated to include DISCLAIMER:
The following blog post is in no way meant to provide any individual with specific advice. An immigration specialist, or the South African Department of Home Affairs should always be contacted directly for advice. The following describes my experience from August 2013-July 2014, and laws and/or protocol could vary greatly depending on your specific case details and/or method and/or place of application.
Original Blog Post:
If any of the following seems boring or provides you with stress, anxiety, or headaches- just remember that I actually did it all- and if you are contemplating taking the same route, I pray for your emotional well-being.
If you are one of the few that wishes to marry in and/or move to South Africa, this is going to be the best thing you’ll ever read, and I will be your new best friend. You’re welcome.
Goal: Marry a South African, in South Africa, and then live there as a temporary resident.
*Note: You must be a temporary resident for 5 years before you can apply for permanent residency. A RSA ID Book will only be issued once a permanent resident.
Steps to take:
1. Take a deep breath. Audibly say “It will be fine. I will survive.”.
2. If you have never been inside a South African Department of Home Affairs, brace yourself for this upcoming experience.
3. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website on Marriage in South Africa, call and/or visit a South African Embassy in your home country, call and/or visit a VFS Global representative, or consult and/or hire an immigration specialist.
4. Write down all of your questions, and the answers that each person, from which entity, gives you after speaking with them.
5. Get “Letter of No Impediment”.
6. Meet with an Immigration Officer and receive necessary document.
7. Get Married.
8. Apply for Temporary Residency of a Spouse.
9. Wait to have it issued, and then collect at the same office where you placed your application.
*Note- When/How you decide to change your name is debatable. I would suggest changing your name on your passport, at the USA Consulate in Johannesburg, no later than two weeks after your wedding. (Make your appointment date at least a month in advance.) To apply to change your name on your passport, you will need to submit a copy of your marriage certificate, (which can only be issued by Home Affairs- after they ‘capture’ your marriage register that your marriage officer (officiant) submitted to them, at the office of which he/she is registered). Pay the extra fee to expedite your new passport. (I received mine in about 7 working days.) AFTER you get your new passport, with your married name, apply for Temporary Residency and use that new passport number on the application. Please trust me that this will save you R1350.00 and lots of headaches- I changed my name on my USA Passport after submitting my application for Temporary Residency- I now have to apply for a transfer of my visa into my new passport, which costs the aforementioned, and also apply for a Change of Conditions on my visa, because Home Affairs issued my Visa as a Visitor with a 5 year validity, instead of a Temporary Resident. Oy.
The only fees I incurred were when doing the following:
FBI Criminal Clearance (+/-$80)
TX DPS Criminal Clearance (+/-$30)
Medical Certificate (Cost of Doctor’s Visit +/-R500)
Radiological Report (Cost of Doctor’s Visit and X-Ray +/-R700)
Yellow Fever Vaccination and Vaccination Certificate (Because I went on Honeymoon to Victoria Falls in Zambia) (Cost of Doctor’s Visit +/-R500)
Hiring our Wedding Officiant/Marriage Officer (R1750)
Printing our Marriage Certificate (R100)
Changing my Name on my Passport (+/- $110, with extra pages)
Plus the gas for lots and lots of driving, and $15 for my International Drivers License.
And now, I may have to pay to transfer my visa to my new passport, as mentioned above, – but all in all, not too many expenses are associated with the whole process.
I am a USA Citizen, and my goal was to marry a South African Citizen, in South Africa, and then live there as a Temporary Resident.
This is what I did in order to achieve that:
In August – November of 2013 I visited South Africa, and tried to gather all of the information about how exactly to go about getting married, and all of the rules and paperwork associated- because I’m a goody-two-shoes and terrified of accidentally doing something illegal. This included numerous calls to overseas RSA (Republic of South Africa) Embassies, long, tiresome visits to several different Department of Home Affairs offices, and visits to the USA Consulate in Johannesburg.
*Note: If wanting to stay in South Africa, on a 90 Day Visitor’s Visa, you can NOT get another visa by simply visiting a neighboring country, and then re-entering South Africa. Your original Visitor Visas’ Date of Expiration will apply. If intending on staying for more than 90 days, you should either apply for a visitors visa in your home country with a RSA Embassy/Consulate for your intended period before coming to South Africa, OR apply for an extension, while in South Africa at a Department of Home Affairs.
I (finally) found out all of the information I needed.
Needed To Get Married:
-Letter from the South African Citizen of intention to marry and support foreigner
-Certified Copy of South African Citizen’s 3 Months’ Bank Statements
-Copy of South African Citizen’s ID Book
-Copy of Foreigner’s Passport
-Letter of No Impediment – This is an affidavit, that was declared by myself in front of the USA Consulate General at the Johannesburg Consulate, stating that I am legally single, and there is no impediment against myself getting married. You have to schedule an appointment on the Consulate website in order to do this.
In December-February I went back to Texas to get all of the necessary documents for my residency application.
Once I was back in South Africa in February, I brought the above mentioned documents, along with our original passports/ID book, and pictures of ourselves throughout our relationship, to the Akasia Department of Home Affairs, located in Pretoria North. We met with an Immigration Officer, of whom asked us questions validating our relationship, and then issued us an “Immigration Report / Interview to Ascertain the Existence of a Good Spousal Relationship” that was signed by myself, my now husband, and the immigration officer. A certified copy of this document must be submitted, along with your marriage register and Form BI-31, by the marriage officer (officiant) when he logs your marriage with Home Affairs after your wedding. The officiant will need to see the document before marrying you, or agreeing to do so. I suggest getting Form BI-31 from Home Affairs when doing the Immigration Interview. Both parties will also need passport-style photographs when completing your marriage register.
Our wedding was on March 15, 2014. We signed and completed the marriage register at our wedding, and then our marriage officer (officiant) submitted our register to where he is registered, at the Centurion Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria South. You should get married and submit your Temporary Residency application within the validity of your 90 day visitors visa that you were issued upon your arrival into South Africa.
Documents to Accompany Application for Temporary Residency of a Spouse (Form BI-1738)
1. Your Passport that is valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit, and copies thereof.
2. A Medical Report (Form BI-811)
3. A Radiological Report (Form BI-806)
4. Marriage Certificate*
5. Completed Form BI-1712A , Affidavit of Relationship
6. Letter from South African Citizen requesting approval of Temporary Residence Permit, Intention of support, cohabitation, and financial and emotional responsibility towards their spouse.
7. Certified Copy of South African Citizen’s 3-Month Bank Statements
8. Documentation proving cohabitation and the extent to which the related financial responsibilities are shared by the parties.
9. Divorce Decree, if applicable
10. Death Certificate, in respect of a late spouse, if applicable
11. Police Clearance Certificates**, in respect of all countries where the person resided one year or longer since having attained the age of 18.
12. A vaccination certificate, if required by the act. (Yellow Fever Vaccination, if traveled to a Yellow Fever Area.)
* You must get this from a Home Affairs Office by submitting Form BI-130, after ensuring that your marriage register has been ‘captured’ and in logged in the system at the office of which your marriage officer is registered.
**Police Clearance Certificates for USA Citizens:
I did criminal clearance on both Federal and State Levels. For the State Level in Texas, you can go to the DPS website, and schedule to have your fingerprints done and the form issued.
For the Federal Level, I did my clearance through a Certified FBI Channeler, National Background Check, Inc.. Make sure to request the original certificate mailed, and a copy emailed to you.
At the time of submitting your application, you will be given a “receipt”. Keep this very safe, and make sure that you ask what your application reference number is. This receipt, that proves you submitted a residency application, allows you to remain in South Africa until your residency visa is issued. You can check on your application by calling, a surprisingly helpful and efficient, Home Affairs Call Centre phone number: +27 080 060 1190. If you are unsure of your application reference number, they can search your application status with your passport number.
You are supposed to be notified of when it is ready to be picked up and issued, at the same office of application, by text message. But I never got one, I just kept checking by calling the call centre every 2-3 weeks. It took 2 months for my visa to be “issued” and then another month for it to make it to the Akasia office in order for me to get it, after it was “dispatched” from the Head Office.
*BONUS! If you want to drive while in South Africa, you can get your international drivers license from AAA. It is valid for a year and in almost every country.
When I go back to Texas this December, I am going to figure out how to get the DPS to verify all ways my Texas Drivers’ license is valid, and then I am supposedly able to use that letter, to receive my South African Drivers’ License, without having to take a test at all. …That seems like another post waiting to happen. ;)
I hope all this can at least help one person!
UPDATE (August 2014)
As mentioned above about the headache with changing my name, my appointment is this Thursday to re-submit my Temporary Residency Application. I will post an update when it ends up (finally) getting issued correctly, and what hiccups there were, if any.
UPDATE (May 2015)
I have reapplied for a revision of my visa TWICE, and it has been issued back to me each time with the same errors on the visa- it states “Visitors Visa” instead of “Temporary Resident”. This is apparently because of the fact that I got married and applied for my original Temporary Residency as having originally entering the country on a normal 90 day Visitors Visa. Now that I have gone back to the US (over christmas) and come back into the country on my visa (and 11.6 Special Visitors Visa), when I reapply to revise my visa now, it should finally be issued back to me with the corrected type of visa (Temporary Residency). Within the next month or two I plan on doing that, and I will update again.