6 Steps to Applying for a South African Critical Skills Permanent Residence Permit

6 Steps to Applying for a South African Critical Skills Permanent Residence Permit

So you finally have your South African Critical Skills visa. You are enjoying South Africa so much that you want to stay here on a permanent basis? Well, turns out there is a visa for that too! It’s called a Critical Skills Permanent Residence Permit and I will show you how to get one in this article. It is surprisingly easier than getting a Critical Skills Visa.

If you would like a guide on how to apply for a Critical Skills Visa please check out my previous article. There are several types of PR visas but this article focuses solely on the Critical Skills Permanent Residence Visa .

The Other types of Permanent Residence Visas for South Africa

  • Relatives Permanent Residence Permit; if you’re a biological relative of (or legally adopted by) a South African citizen or of a foreigner with a valid South African permanent residence permit.
  • Spousal/Life Partner Permanent Residence Permit;if you’re married to or in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen or with a foreigner with a South African permanent residence permit AND you have been married/together for at least 5 years. Same-sex couples also apply 🙂
  • Five Years Continuous Work Permanent Residence Permit;if you can prove that you’ve worked continuously in South Africa for five years under a specific type of work visa and have permanent employment.
  • Business Permanent Residence Permit;if you already have a business temporary residence visa, can prove that 60% of your workforce is made up of South Africans or permanent residents, have invested the prescribed amount (R5 million) into the book value of the business and have met the compliance requirements (i.e. registered with SARS, UIF, etc)
  • Retirement Permanent Residence Permit South Africa;if you are planning to retire in South Africa and can prove that you receive a life-long monthly income equivalent to R37,000 a month from pensions, retirement annuities or property rentals. Guess what, there is no minimum age requirement for this permit!
  • Financially Independent Permanent Residence Permit;This one is for the rich; if you have the equivalent of R12 million worth of global net assets, then you can buy your permanent residence permit for R120,000.

1. Verify that you qualify Critical Skills Permanent Residence Permit

You are eligible for this visa if you have 5 years of post-graduate experience and qualify for the Critical Skills Visa. You do not actually need to have a Critical Skills Visa to apply for PR. However, if this is your case, you can check out my previous article on how to sort out your documents for a Critical Skills Visa because you will need them for this visa too.

The 5 years of work experience requirement does not apply to graduates from South African institutions. In 2016, Home Affairs Minister Gigaba signed a waiver that allows foreign students who studied at South African tertiary institutions towards a degree in a critical skill field, to apply for permanent residence without the need to first apply for a critical skills visa or to have 5 years work experience. So if you graduated from an SA university with a “critical skills degree”, you can apply for this PR visa! Pretty cool right?

2. Get your proof of employment (or degree if you are a student)

You need to submit proof that you are currently permanently employed in South Africa. You can use a confirmation of employment letter supplied by the company you work for. If you are applying as a student using the waiver I explained in Step 1, you can submit your degree certificate and official transcript instead and proof that your degree falls within a critical skill area; so if you studied Electrical Engineering you can just print the official list of critical skills and circle “Electrical Engineering” (or what ever skill it is you are applying for).

3. Take Out Those Certificates From SAQA and Your Professional Body

You will not need these if you are applying as a graduate. If you currently hold a Critical Skills Visa then you will have a SAQA Certificate and documents from the professional body you used when you applied for the Critical Skills Visa. These documents will be needed again for this application. You can get a refresher on these documents on steps 2 and 3 of my article on how to get a Critical Skills Visa.

Image of the Sunset at Sunset Beach, Sea Point, Cape Town - Tinotenda Chemvura
Sunset at Sunset Beach, Sea Point – Tinotenda Chemvura

4. Prepare the miscellaneous supporting documents

NB: Any documents that are not in English must be accompanied by ones that have been translated by a sworn translator.

The following are a list of documents you will need along with the ones I listed above:

  • Certified copy of your Critical Skills Visa (or Study Visa if you are a graduate)
  • Certified copy all your previous South African visas including their corresponding entry and exit stamps.
  • DHA-947 form completed ONLINE (handwritten forms not allowed)
  • 2 passport sized photos (see requirements)
  • Certified Copy of your current and previous passports.
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Motivation letter specifying your critical skill and how it would benefit South Africa.
  • Medical Certificate (Use this form). This must be no older than 6 months at the time of submission.
  • Radiological report (Use this form). This must be no older than 6 months at the time of submission.
  • Police Clearance Certificate from every country that you have lived in for at least 12 months since you turned 18 years.
  • Proof of 5 years working experience in your critical skill field. If you qualify for the waiver I mentioned in Step 1 then you do not need 5 years working experience.
  • Updated CV.
  • At least 2 reference/recommendation/testimonial letters from previous employees.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination certificate if you will travel through or have been to a yellow fever region.
  • Academic qualifications (degrees, transcripts, certificates, etc.)

The following documents are conditional:

  • If you are applying as a student as described in Step 1, include a copy of the waiver.
  • Marriage certificate or in the case of a foreign spousal relationship, proof of official recognition thereof issued by the authorities of the country concerned if available
  • The affidavit where a spousal relationship to a South African citizen or resident is applicable, as well as documentation proving cohabitation and the extent to which the related financial responsibilities are shared by the parties and setting out the particulars of children in the spousal relationship
  • Divorce decree, where applicable
  • Court order granting full or specific parental responsibilities and rights, where applicable
  • A death certificate, in respect of a late spouse, where applicable
  • Written consent from both parents and a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights parent, where applicable
  • Proof of legal adoption where applicable
  • Legal separation order, where applicable

The following documents have already been addressed in steps 1-3:

  • A letter from your current employer, no older than 6 months, confirming your permanent employment with them. This must be translated by a sworn translator into English if necessary.
  • If you are applying as a student, you can use your proof of registration, degree certificate and official transcript. All of these must be translated by a sworn translator into English if necessary. You must also include a page from this gazette where your critical skill is listed and clearly circle it.
  • A confirmation, in writing, from the professional body, council or board recognized by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act, or any relevant government Department confirming the skills Qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience.
  • Proof of application for a certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognized by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act
  • Proof of evaluation of the foreign qualification by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator into English
Image of a Mini Cooper parked by the street - Tinotenda Chemvura
A Mini Cooper Parked by the Street – Tinotenda Chemvura

5. Submit your Permanent Residence Permit application

If you are applying for this visa, you are most probably already in South Africa, therefore, you can book an appointment with VFS. More information on how to do that here. If you are unable to apply from within South Africa, you can do so at your nearest VFS centre or South African Embassy. However, because of how long it can take for this permit to come out in certain countries, I recommend first applying for a critical skills visa and then applying for a permanent residence permit once you are in South Africa. More information on how to apply for a Critical Skills Visa can be found on this article.

6. Wait Patiently While Your Visa Application is Being Processed

Unlike other types of Permanent Residence Permits which can take 3 years to come out, this one takes about 3 to 8 months. You will get an email, SMS or phone call from VFS to tell you that your permit is ready for collection. Now you just have to deal with getting a South African ID and converting your Driver’s License. Keep an eye out for articles on how to do this too.

PS: If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below 😀

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11 months ago

Hi Tino,

Thanks so much for the insightful information, would you recommend anyone to process a critical skills through an agency?

1 year ago

Hi there. Just wondering, if I initially just apply for the critical work visa and get it, can I apply for the permanent residence immediately without getting in job (assuming I got my degree in South Africa )

Also , if I am applying from Zimbabwe and the only other country I have lived in is South Africa, do you know how I can get my SA fingerprints? Do I have to get them shipped to Zim somehow or will the embassy already have access to them?

Thanks in advance!

1 year ago

Thank you so much for this valuable info.I just have 2 questions.

Question 1: I have CSV for 5 years generated by my employer in India and currently at onsite working for SA client in Johannesburg.Can I apply for PR in SA based on that Visa?

Question 2: I am married and just wish to apply for my PR and not for Spouse.Will i still need marriage certificate to apply for my PR only?

Thanks in advance 😊

1 year ago

This is an amazing and extremely helpful article Tino, thank you!

1 year ago

Thanks so much for this – I found it so helpful. I just have a question on the motivational letter; how long does it have to be? Any other advice you have with respect to the motivational letter will also be greatly appreciated!

Arthur Zambezi
Arthur Zambezi
2 years ago

Great article Tino. A question Tino if you don’t mind, can you apply for permanent residence in your final year of your critical skills degree?
Kind Regards

Kuda M
Kuda M
3 years ago

Hi Tino I did my studies and graduated in SA year 2014 , now that time has lapsed can I apply as a student or now I’m required to do the work visa ..


3 years ago

Great information

3 years ago

Hi Tino, thank you for the very informative article!
I am facing some challenges with my visa and would like to consult you on some issues via email. I really need some assistance.

3 years ago

[…] PS: If you are a studying toward a critical skills degree in South Africa, you may as well apply for Permanent Residency instead. Find out more here. […]

3 years ago

Thanks Tino for the article. Could you add that for documents such as birth certificate and police clearance delivered in languages other than English, translation to English is required?

3 years ago

Thanks for this article. My question is this, if one gets the critical skill visa for 12 months without a proof of employment, is it possible to renew it after 12month if you haven’t been able to secure employment in your critical skill field.?

3 years ago

I have a critical skills Visa which will expire end of July 2019.How do I go about applying for a 5 year permit

3 years ago

Hey Tino thanks so much for the info its been really helpful…i want to apply for the critical skills visa under the risk assessor skills but then i only have 3 years work experience so i was thinking of going through the study permit to do my masters in SA then try and get a job in SA and then apply for the work permit…what are my chances? Also my dad has a permanent residence visa in SA but applying for a relatives visa will not allow me to live and work in SA and because of my age i… Read more »

3 years ago

Tino, you are creating really good content! Well done, this is really informative.

Carla Wilby
3 years ago

Tino, you have never stopped being phenomenal! This is an amazing article and site. This information is SO valuable and necessary. Could I possibly reference this content in an article on the Zelda Learning app? We have had a lot of students asking if we could help with applying for residency and Visas. I would reference the article of course :).


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