Sign in to join the discussion or ask one of our experts another question.


Life Partner Visas for South Africa - How long does the process take ?


Shona's picture
By Shona - Posted on
07 March 2013
Hi everyone!

So, me and my partner are both 21 and live in the UK. I am Scottish, while he South African (his parents moved to the UK when he was young). He takes a trip back to Cape Town every 2 years to visit family, and on his most recent trip, I accompanied him. We have decided that it would be a great experience to live and work there for 2 years, and see how we enjoy it! We don't know how we will find it so we are loosely saying 2 years, though it might be more or less than this.

We shall not be flying out to Cape Town as soon as possible though, as we are both still studying, and my partner still has to get his South African passport and I.D. We are rather confused about when to start applying for my visa/working visa. I have read people talking about getting a Life Partner visa, but would this allow me to work as well? How many months before we hope to leave should I start applying for a visa or should I apply now, and the visa gets held until I arrange to go to Cape Town? Sorry for my ignorance! I have never dealt with visas before.

Thank you very much for any help you can give. Shona
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Shona,

I was in a very similar situation to you a couple of years ago. I moved to Cape Town from London to live with my South African boyfriend and went through the whole Life Partner Visa process.

In my case, I arrived in South Africa on a tourist visa and then applied for my life partner visa. At that time it took 8 months to process, things may have improved with Home Affairs now, but you can never be sure. I have heard that applying for your permit through the South African embassy in London speeds things up as well - so maybe give that a shot. 

I would say the earlier you can apply the better. There are a lot of documents that you need to have so collecting those takes a while as well. Obviously you'll have to wait for your boyfriend to have his SA ID and Passport in place beforeyou can get the ball rolling with yours. 

You are allowed to work on a life partner visa. However, it is only a work endorsement not a work permit therefore the endorsement only allows you to work at a particular place. If you decide to change your job at a later stage you need to go back to Home Affairs and have them amend the paperwork. 

If you decide to apply before arriving Cape Town you can move here on the Life Partner Visa and then have the work endorsement added once you've had the chance to find yourself a job.

Hope this information helps and do let me know if you have anymore questions because I am happy to help.

Good luck.

Shantalie


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Shona's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 40 weeks ago
Joined: 07/03/2013

Hi Shantalie.

Thank you so much for your long reply! I learned a lot from it.

It's very interesting to hear that you were in my shoes not too long ago! My partner has applied for his passport and I.D book, but have been told that this may also take quite a long time.

I think I will apply for my Life Partner Visa in the UK. Will there be any chance I won't be granted the visa? If I am granted it, is it as simple as I fly out there, and start looking for a job, and then once I get one - apply for the work endorsment? Will any companies be unsure about hiring someone who technically isn't able to work in the country yet?

I plan on working with children in Cape Town, so does the work endorsement mean that I can only work within child care itself, or that I can only work within one specific company/buisness? So if I work in a Nursery, I can only work in that one Nursery and if I wanted to change Nurseries I'd need to go through more paper work to notify them on the change of work place or would I have to be granted a work endorsment all over again? Basically meaning I can't change jobs? Sorry if these questions seem a bit confusing.

If you don't mind me asking - what has your experience of Cape Town been so far? Have your views of Cape Town changed now that you live there, and not seeing it through "rose tinted glasses" anymore?

Shona

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Shona,

First, with regards to the visa - yes you can fly striaght over and look for a job or you can start looking online from the UK - the BizCommunity portal and the News24 job site are pretty good.  I tried applying for jobs and lined up a few interviews before I got here, but employers do often want to interview you asap.

If you have all the correct documentation then you shouldn't have any problem or have your application rejected by Home Affairs.

The endorsement on your visa does limit you to a single employer and doesn't allow you to move jobs. If you find a different job then you have to go to Home Affairs and ask them to change the endorsement (however, many employers do let you start working as long as the endorsement has been applied for.) I have changed jobs a number of times and yest it can be a lot of hassle, but it is possible and worth it to find a job you are happy with.

My views on Cape Town have certainly changed since I moved here. When I spent time here as a tourist I only the positive side of life. I still love Cape Town and the lifestyle here - there is so much natural beauty and its great to be outdoors exploring this great country. There are also lots of festivals and events taking place which are good for keeping you entertained.

However, there are downsides to life in Cape Town as well. Transport is a bit of an issue. I came from London where I was used to getting about everywhere by bus and tube. In Cape Town you really need to drive to get about easily, Depending on where you choose to live there is a new MiCity bus being set up which should help. I also had to get used to how things here take much longer than in the UK - for instance setting up my bank account was quite a tough experience as there was a lot of bureacracy to go through. Then I would say that wages are low in comparison to the UK and certain goods like electronics and clothing are way more expensive, which means you have lower disposable income. However, I found by making a few lifestyle adjustments such as doing more outdoor activities instead of spending my time shopping and in bars and clubs, I have been able to settle in just fine.

If you want an overview of expat life in Cape Town take a look at the Expat Arrivals Cape Town City Guide. It should help you get a feel for the place. You might also find it useful to take a look at some Expat Experiences of South Africa and learn from the experiences of other foreigners her.

Again, do let me know if you have any more questions regarding life in Cape Town.

Cheers,

Shantalie
Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi girls! Just a quick question when you came from London to SA did you have a return ticket? I am also in the process of this!

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anonymous,

Yes if you are coming into South Africa on a tourist visa you need a return ticket or another flight out of the country within 90 days of your arrival.

I booked a ticket with Emirates and for a fee of GBP 75 I was able to change the flight to a later date - once I had started the visa process in SA.

Good luck,

Shantalie
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi Shantalie,

I'm also in a similar situation and I would really like your advice since you've done that already,
what did you do during the time between your tourist visa had expired and your partner visa had not yet been authorized?

Anne

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anne,

So you need to apply for your Life Partner (or any visa for that matter) 30 days before the tourist visa runs. As Home Affairs says that any visa should be processed within 30 days, technically this means there shouldn't really be a gap where you a left with no valid visa at all.

However, in reality this is not the case. There was about a 7 month gap where I didn't have a valid visa. This makes things really difficult in some respect because you can't work, open a bank account or do much. Also, you may experience problems when leaving the country or trying to re-enter. Home Affairs doesn't communicate well with immigration at the airport - so the immigration officers at the airport will just think you have overstayed.

The solution to this problem is to visit your nearest Home Affairs office, they can issue you with a Form 20, which indicates that you have sumbitted a visa application which is pending. They will however warn you that there is only a 50/50 chance that this will be accepted by the immigration officer so you might be issued with a fine when trying to leave the country (you can apply for a refund later - but that is probably also going to be a long drawn out process)

So other than that I am afraid you have to sit tight and wait. 

Hope this helps and do let me know if you have anymore questions..

Shantalie
Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi there.
What a useful forum. I'm also in a similar situation, but been living in Durban for the past 3 years with my boyfriend on my student visa. This has expired and I'm now on my visitors visa as I have been looking for employment. I was not aware of the 30 day rule and my visitors visa is about to expire soon. I have got a job offer and was wondering if when applying for life partner permit, does one have to submit all the requirements for the work permit as well in order to be allowed to work? ( Salary benchmarking, newspaper advert, prrof of short listed candidates etc)? And can one stay in the country once the application has been submitted even though my visa expires? Also, can one start working?

Heard so many different things.

Thanks!

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anonymous,

The requirement for the work endorsement on a life partner permit for South Africa are not the same as for the regular work permit.

You do not need to submit a list of candidates, newspaper advert, etc. Basically, the way Home Affairs see it is that you are in South Africa to be with your boyfriend not primarily to work. You simply need an offer letter from the employer.

Remember that is you choose to change jobs you will need to reaplly for the endorsement. 

Technically, there was a ruling to say that if Home Affairs hadn't given you an outcome on your application within 30 days then you would be able to start work. However, you need to have your employer recognise this and most companies will not. The company I was working for when I first got here were very strict and wouldn't allow me to start work till the visa came through. I've heard of others that do though.

Also, you can't open a bank account without the paperwork (but you probably already have a SA bank account, so this should not be too much of an issue.)

You are able to stay in the country once you have submitted the papers. You will be given a receipt to prove that you have a visa application in process. Just be sure to submit everything 30 days before the old permit is due to expire.

Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.

Shantalie
Your rating: None
Daphne Kruijsse's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 35 weeks ago
Joined: 08/04/2013

Hi everyone,

I have recently applied for a LLP visa in Cape Town and you have to be very patient with this. I arrived just over a month ago and applied a few days later. At the moment I am still waiting for a message to inform me my application is getting processed. So for now it is still sitting somewhere. Yes they say 30 days but don't expect that.

My advice is to apply at the embassy in london. I originally did this however a form (affidavit) that was given to me by Home affairs here in Cape Town was not accepted in London. I was very frustrated with this because I know the turn around time is much quicker in London. This left me no choice then to apply here in Cape Town as my partner had already gone to Cape Town and you need to sign this form together. Just go to the embassy and ask them exactly what you need and ones you go in to apply bring everything possible that can proof your relationship, years together, etc. Rather bring too much than too little. They are harsh there I was sitting next to people who been there for the 8th time because everytime something is wrong. But once it is in it will be much quicker there as they do it internally.

I have applied for a work endorsement right away, however now the company doesn't want to wait so I have another job offer but not sure how to change this and i doubt they will dig up my application to change a few papers so not much i can do at the moment.

However I can tell you CT is amazing, yes I get frustrated I cant work atm but I just have to accept that. Don't know about companies that will hire you without visa, i guess it is a risk form them. I have applied for a few jobs but don't often get a reply. So in the mean time I try to make the most of being here, there are loads of people new here in Cape Town and u just have to go out there and find them and enjoy your free time whilst u can!

Good luck to all and let me know if you need more info.

Daphne

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

this forum is very informative,please i iwll like to know which is better for me is it a life partner or a study permit,i have already applied for a life partner and is out before i got my admission in joburg but i have not put it on my passport yet,i am skeptical about the best option for me if to use the llp and get study endorsement or get study permit

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anonymous,

The type of visa you go for will depend on your primary reason for being in South Africa. A Life Partner Visa will let you reside in South Africa with your partner who must be a South African citizen and on top of that it allows you to get an endorsement to work in the country or start a business (NB it is not a work permit as such, each time you change your job you need to return to Home Affairs to change the endorsement.)

A study permit on the other hand is solely based on you being enrolled in a course at a South African educational establishment. Remember this visa will only allow you to work for up to 20 hours a week.

One thing to note is that Home Affairs will not allow you to submit a application if you already have one in process. So if your Life Partner visa is already pending you must wait for the outcome before applying for a study permit to replace it.

For more information I suggest reading the Expat Arrivals page on Visas for South Africa.

Hope this helps.

Shantalie
Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Can anyone tell me how long it takes for a relatives visa to be granted from the UK end?

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anonymous,

Unfortunately, I can't give you an exact time frame when it comes to visa processing for South Africa. However, I am told it is much faster applying from your home country than from within South Africa.

Usually the authorities quote 4-6 weeks but it could take longer depending on the application its self. 

Kind Regards,

Shantalie
Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Ive just received my Relatives permit in the UK , it took two week to process. The problem I have now is I have just received an offer of employment from a company and London will not endorse my permit. They say I will have to get it done in SA. Nowhere has anyone mentioned how to apply for the work endorsement. Is it using the BI-1740 form?

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Anonymous,

I am not 100% sure how the system works in London. Things have changed a bit since I applied for my permit back in 2010.

However, if you get the job offer after applying for your visa then I am afraid you do need to return to Home Affairs to get your work endorsement. The fact that you already have your Life Partner visa should help speed things up, but as always with Home Affairs its hard to give you an exact time frame.

If you visit Home Affairs, they should give you a list of what documents you will need for the work endorsement. As this list changes on a regular basis its best to check with them directly.

Good luck,

Shantalie
Your rating: None
JaneUK's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 17 weeks ago
Joined: 22/08/2013

Hi!

I've been living in South Africa for over a year on a life partner permit visa, my boyfriend is south african. We received a lot of help from a site called lifepartnerpermit.co.za who specializes in foreigners who want to move to SA who are in a relationship. Sure they know a lot about spousal visas as well. A life partner permit visa is the way to go since it allows you to stay in the country and work as well. Tried to get a workpermit at first but it was such a mission and you almost have to be i SA to be able to get it right.

Your rating: None
JaneUK's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 17 weeks ago
Joined: 22/08/2013

It took me just over a month to get my life partner permit visa, but we recieved a lot of useful help from the site lifepartnerpermit.co.za. My application was approved immediately. I read on forums that it can be difficult to understand what you need in your application and that if you get it wrong you have to add information which makes the process very very long.

I did apply for my visa in South Africa so I don't know how it works if you want to apply for it abroad.

Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi Jane,

You are very lucky that you already got your visa.Where about in SA are you staying?

I'm Brazilian and I am staying in Durban and I applied for a spouse permit with work endorsement on the 10th of July and so far I haven't received an answer and don't even know where my forms are.
Di you think the staff from the site lifepartnerpermit.co.za would be able to help me trace my application so it can be processed?And are their services expensive?

Thank you,

Ruth

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Ruth,

From my experience, if you've submitted your application and Home Affairs have accepted it, it is pretty much a waiting game from then on. There is nothing that an immigration consultant can do to push it through or track it faster than you can. You would need to check with the company themselves for their rates but I shopped around and found that most immigration companies will charge you at least R8,000 for their services. It won't be worth your while, as you've done most of the work yourself.

Technically, you should be able to track the progress online but it never worked for me. For months, I checked that site everyday and it always told me the visa application was 'PENDING'.

I went into Home Affairs myself and asked them to track it. They told me that my application had been sitting in Cape Town for 8 weeks even before it reached Pretoria, so that accounted for some of the delay. So maybe see if you can get some assistance from Home Affairs, yourself.

Hope this helps. Fingers crossed you get your permit soon.

Shantalie 
Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi guys.

The tricky part is to find a Home Affairs office that works well. We live in Cape Town and went to Paarl where we handed in my application. Bellville in Cape Town is rubbish, you have to bribe people etc. It all comes down to what office you go to.

lifepartnerpermit.co.za only charged us R 4000 for everything! Best money spent ever. We had to hand in our application ourselvs to get a paper with my tracking number. from then on we checked online and it only took us a months to recieve and answer and a sticker in my passport. So sorry to hear about your experience. I know that you can send you application to the guys from lifepartnerpermit.co.za and they hand it in for you at the successfull office in Paarl (about 30 min outside Cape Town). By law Home Affairs should be able to give you a response within 30 days when appling for a life partner permit, don't know what rules applies for spouse + work permits.

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Jane,

As Anonymous said above expats do have different experiences at different Home Affairs offices. 

For both my initial application and my renewal I went through the central Cape Town office in the CBD. The first time round I went through an immigration consultant and the application took 8 months to be processed. 2nd time round, I saved myself some money submitted the papers myself and I had approval in 3 weeks. I am not sure wether things have improved though, as I know there are expats who are still waiting months for renewals, etc.

Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

In my experience, it is worth spending a few thousands on help from a firm, but choose the ones that are not pricey such as lifepartnerpermit.co.za, the only thing you really end up paying for is the notorial contract which is great to have anyway.

And go through to Paarl, I have heard so many horrible stories of people who tried to go to Bellville in CT, there were people selling drugs and fake rolex watches outside the entrance. The Paarl office is small and you don't have to wait for hours like you sometimes have to do in CT.

Don't think it's much effort to use a firm if you want help with the actual tracking of the application, but most firms do have great experience and connections within home affairs that might be helpful. help is always needed in situations like this.

Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi Shantalie and Jane,

Ruth again here.I check my status online everyday and it says application dispatched to Pretoria.I went to the office here in Durban where I applied and they said the application was already sent to Pretoria.However Pretoria's Head Office haven't even acknowledged the receipt of my application,so I don't even have the "pending" status.
I tried contacting their "costumer service" line and the last time which was 2 weeks ago I was supposed to be called back with info of where my application is.However I haven't received that call and whenever I phoned them they say they are still waiting to hear from the department.
I am willing to pay R4000 if that's what it takes to get my visa.I contacted lifepartnerza in their website,but haven't received an email or phone call back from them.Do they have a number I can call or an email address I can send my case to?

Shantalie I'm not in a position to sit and wait for 8 months.I forgot to mention it is a spouse visa with work endorsement and the company that I signed a contract with needed me to start working last week on the 22nd.That was stated in the contract attached to my supporting documents in my application.
At this point I don`t know what else I can do,because certainly my company won`t wait 8 months for me to start working.
Is there anything else I can do?
I am afraid I will have to pay to see something done to my visa application.

Kind Regards,

Ruth

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Ruth,

When I was waiting for my initial Life Partner visa to be approved in 2010 the immigration consultant I was using produced a document that highlighted a court ruling that stated that if Home Affairs hadn't given someone a verdict on their application within 30 days as promised, then the applicant was allowed to start work after those 30 days had passed (so, they basically the court ruled it was a violation of a persons human rights to have them waiting for an indefinate period of time without an answer and not allowing them to start working). You will obviously need to do some research to see what the situation is now, 3 years on. 

However, it is totally up to the company whether they choose to uphold this ruling. The company I was hired by at the time said that they needed an official letter from Home Affairs (not the immigration consultant) specifically saying that this ruling was applicable in my case. Obviously, when I went back to Home Affairs and asked for this there was noone who could help.

I was phoning up Home Affairs every other day as well and experienced the same level of service.

I have admit that using a immigration consultant does offer some peace of mind in that you know you've paid someone to take care of your application. However, in my experience unless the consultant has a contact within Home Affairs that can speed up your application, they really can't do much more than you can.

Having sat at the Home Affairs on many occasions and having had lots of chat to the consultants while waiting in the queue, the only thing I've seen is that because they deal with multiple applications, they can jump the queue a bit. In my opinion, it wasn't worth paying R8,000 for . At the end of the day though its a personal decision.

Best of luck. 

Shantalie
Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hi Shantalie,

Thank you for the advice.I contacted an immigration practitioner and she is only charging me R650 once she gets Home Affairs to process my visa.I gave her power of attorney and she will deal straight with Home Affairs on my behalf.She seems to have had success with similar cases like mine.She said she will need a few days but will do all she can.If they can`t find my application she will then submit a copy of my application together with the receipt and she will try to push them to process my visa without looking for the original copy.
Will update on the forum once I get my visa!

Kind Regards,

Ruth

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Ruth,

R650 is not a bad price to pay. Plus, it can't do any harm having another person also working on your application.

Fingers crossed everything works out soon.

Shantalie
Your rating: None
MVG
MVG's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 12 weeks ago
Joined: 26/09/2013

Hi!! Is it possible to work in SOuth Africa with a spousal visa? Thanks in advance for your reply.

Your rating: None
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

hi shantalie my problem is same as your. but I want to go visit my family but still I am waiting for my visa in south Africa. so how to I go and come back again here?
thanks for answer.samita

Your rating: None
Shantalie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 01/08/2012

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

From:
London, England

Hi Samita,

You need to go to Home Affairs and ask them to give you a Form 20, which states that you have applied for your visa in good time but have not received an outcome.

You will then need to show this to an immigration official at the airport.

While some people have used this form successfully, there have also been instances where the form was not accepted at the airport and people were made to pay a fine. If this happens in your case, you can apply for a refund once your permit does come through.

Good luck,

Shantalie

Your rating: None

Post new comment

Please only respond to the original question. If you have a new question, click here
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Comment Note

If you are not logged in, your comment will first be moderated before showing up on the page. Thanks for being patient. Please don't resubmit your comment when you don't see it appear immediately.

If you browser seems to hang when submitting a comment, please click here and reload the main Q and A Forum Page.

Read more posts about South Africa

Search Expat Arrivals

Become our local expat expert for your area!

Expat Arrivals is looking for contributors to make this the ultimate guide for international expats.

If you are an established expat who could make time to write useful information for expats in your city and answering forum questions from new and prospective expats, please contact us.

As our local expert you can have your profile showing on each page you publish, and will have an option to promote your website or blog.


Got a question about your new country?

X
You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Login with your Facebook account (Recommended)
Loading