The following question is part of Groundup's Answers to your questions series and comes from a reader wanting to know about SA's rules around visas.
I'm pregnant. What visa options are available to let my boyfriend stay in SA longer than three months?
The short answer
He could apply for a number of visas: work, critical skills, life partner or (eventually) a relative visa
The whole question
I have been in a relationship with my Serbian boyfriend for almost two years now. We recently found out that I am pregnant. Although we are not quite ready for marriage yet, we would love to raise our child together.
What options do we have in terms of him coming to stay in South Africa for longer than three months at a time on a tourist visa?
The long answer
There are a number of visas that he could apply for, including a work visa, a critical skills visa, a life partner visa or a relative visa. Given the pandemic, however, and the suspension of many services by Home Affairs during the lockdown, all applications are bound to take even longer than usual.
For all the visas he would need passport, completed visa application form and various police and medical clearances.
For a work visa, he would need to have a written offer of employment from a South African employer who would need to prove that a suitable South African could not be found to fill the advertised position. A work visa is valid for the period of the contract but not exceeding five years.
For a critical skills visa, he would have to list one of the skills on the new critical skills list and the required certification proving his qualifications, as well as proof that he has the financial means to support himself while he looks for employment. The critical skills visa is also valid for up to five years.
A life partner visa is a temporary residence permit that a foreigner who is not married but is in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen can apply for. The application must be made from the applicant’s country unless he is here on a temporary visa like the general work permit. You would have to prove that the two of you had been in a long-term relationship for two years and that you are a couple that is emotionally and financially dependent on each other. You would need to show shared financial arrangements and provide letters of support for the application from family and friends. You would have to have separate interviews with Home Affairs officials to establish the authenticity of your relationship. This is a temporary residence permit that is typically given for two to three years but can be extended if you can prove that the relationship is still viable. One of the advantages of this kind of permit is that he can apply for an endorsement for work if he gets a suitable offer of employment when he has been granted the life partner visa, without going through the onerous business of getting a South African employer to prove that he could find no suitable South African to fill an advertised post. He can also apply for an endorsement to study.
He can apply for a relative visa if he is the biological parent of a South African child. As the South African citizen, you would need to prove that you have the financial resources to support him. This visa is issued for up to two years at a time and he would not be allowed to study, open a business or work during the two years.
All the lists of required documentation for the various visas can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website, and you can also access the exhaustive list of critical skills issued in September 2020 online.
At the present time, all international travellers must present a valid certificate of a negative test result for Covid-19 that is less than 72 hours old at the time of departure.
Wishing you the best,Athalie
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