Answer to a question from a reader

I can't open a bank account because I have a Visitor's Visa. What must I do?

The short answer

You can get an endorsement on your spousal visa. Here's how.

The whole question

I left everything behind to live with my husband in South Africa. However, while staying here I've been unable to open a bank account because my visa states that it is a 'Visitor's Visa'. As a woman, I cannot stay idle and wait for my husband's salary. I need to work and save some of the money I earn and receive from my husband, but it's nearly impossible since I can't open a bank account. I'm still going to be staying here for the next 3 years. Is it possible for spousal visas to not to be labelled as 'Visitor's Visas'?

The long answer

Thank you for your email explaining the difficulties of opening a bank account as someone on a spousal visa. It must be very frustrating to be in the country for the next three years with your husband and not to be able to open a bank account.

The spousal visa, which is Visitor Visa Section 11 (6), is called a Visitor’s Visa because it does not grant rights to stay permanently. You can only open a non-resident bank account with the spousal visa, and you are not allowed to deposit rands in it, which makes it useless for your purposes.

You can get an endorsement on your spousal visa that will allow you to work but you can only apply for the endorsement once you have a job offer from a specific employer and the endorsement will only be for that employer.

You can also get an endorsement on your spousal visa to run a business, but you will need to prove that you’ve got a business structure in place like a Sole Proprietorship or Proprietary Limited ((Pty) Ltd).

Once you have been married for five years and have a valid spousal visa you can apply for a spousal permit which is a permanent residency and then you don’t need endorsements to work and open bank accounts.

You may want to ask advice on getting an endorsement on your spousal visa from the following organisations:

  • Lawyers for Human Rights:
    Johannesburg office:
    Tel: 011 339 1960
    Cape Town office:
    021 424 8561
    email: lhr@lhr.org.za

Answered on April 2, 2020, 3:52 p.m.

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