I am an asylum seeker. Can I apply for permanent residence?

The short answer

The Constitutional Court ruled in October 2018 that a blanket ban on asylum seekers applying for temporary or permanent residence visas was not justified.

The whole question

I have been an asylum seeker for seven years. I read a GroundUp article that said asylum seekers can not be banned from applying for permanent residence. Can I apply for permanent residence? It would make my life a lot easier.

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking about applying for a residence visa as an asylum seeker of seven years.

It is true that the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court, ruled in October 2018 that a blanket ban on asylum seekers applying for temporary or permanent residence visas was not justified.

The court said that while it was true that temporary residence permits had to be applied for outside the country, the applicant could apply for an exemption from that part of the Immigration Act, and this exemption could be granted as many asylum seekers could not return to their countries of origin without danger, and did not have valid passports. The court said that there was no reason that asylum seekers should not apply for residence visas, as the Immigration Act should not be in opposition to the Refugees Act.

VSF Global, the company that processes applications for Home Affairs, has issued a statement acknowledging the Constitutional Court's judgement. VSF says that it will immediately accept submissions at all their offices for exemptions from having to apply for temporary residence from outside the country. They say that a directive about permanent residence applications will be made soon.

So it looks as though nothing can prevent you from applying for an exemption at a VSF office.

Good luck!

Answered on March 7, 2019, 12:24 p.m.

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