In terms of Section 5 of the South African citizenship Act (most recently amended by Act 17 of 2010), a foreign national who is a permanent resident of South Africa may apply for naturalisation as a South African citizen so long as certain requirements are met.
In order to qualify for naturalisation as a South African citizen the following requirements need to be met:
- The applicant must be a major
- The applicant must have been admitted to the Republic for permanent residence
- The applicant must be ordinarily resident in the Republic and have been so resident for a continuous period of not less than five years prior to making an application for naturalisation
- In order to be considered ordinarily resident in the Republic the applicant must have been residing in the Republic for at least ten years immediately preceding the date of application for naturalisation
- The applicant must be of good character
- The applicant must intend to continue to reside in South Africa
- The applicant must be able to communicate in any one of our official languages
- The applicant must have adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of South African citizenship
- The applicant must be a citizen of a country that allows for dual citizenship – if a citizen of a country where dual citizenship is not allowed, such applicant must renounce the citizenship of that foreign country and provide proof of renunciation
In respect of a person who is a minor who wishes to apply for naturalisation, this can be done in respect of an applicant who is permanently and lawfully resident in the Republic by the responsible parent or legal guardian of that minor.
In respect of an applicant who is married to a South African citizen the period of ordinary residence that an applicant must comply with before applying for permanent residence is that the applicant must have been ordinarily resident in South Africa for a period of ten years preceding the date of application for naturalisation. Obviously during this ten year period the applicant must be or have been married to the South African citizen spouse.
Permanent residence that is granted to an applicant on the basis of marriage to a South African citizen generally contain a condition that the couple must attend an interview with the Department of Home Affairs within a two to three year period from having obtained such permanent residence. If this is not done, the applicant may not qualify for naturalisation when the time comes.
In respect of any application for naturalisation it is important to note that the applicant may not have been absent from the Republic for more than ninety days in any year during the five year period immediately preceding the date of application for naturalisation.