How do I change my status from asylum seeker to resident?

The short answer

A person applying for temporary residence has to apply from outside of the country, but you can get an exemption from this by applying to Home Affairs through VFS Global..

The whole question

I am a refugee from Bangladesh. How do I change my status from asylum seeker to resident?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking about changing your status from asylum seeker to resident.

You have probably heard that the Constitutional Court ruled in 2018 that any foreigner, including refugees and asylum seekers, could apply for temporary or permanent residence, and that this could be granted if the person fulfilled the requirements of the Immigration Act.

A person applying for temporary residence has to apply from outside of the country, but you can get an exemption from this by applying to Home Affairs. (This is called a Waiver of Regulation 9(5)). VFS Global, the company that processes applications for Home Affairs, says that it will immediately accept submissions at all their offices for exemptions from having to apply for temporary residence from outside the country. A person applying for permanent residence can apply from inside the country.

A temporary residence visa includes a study visa, a business visa, a critical skills visa and a spousal visa. All of these will have different qualifications. In terms of the spousal or life partner temporary visa, a person must have been living in a proven relationship with a partner for more than two years. In terms of permanent residence applications for spouses or life partners, you must have been in a proven relationship for more than five years, and emotional and financial support must be proved. You may have to be interviewed.

To apply for Temporary or Permanent Residency, you need to have the following documents ready:

  • Proof of residence or spousal citizenship in South Africa

  • Government issued Marriage Certificate (if you are married)

  • A letter of support from the partner that holds citizenship/permanent residency

  • Proof of current mental records and well-being

  • A completed temporary or permanent residency application form

You could ask the following organisations for advice and assistance:

  • Lawyers for Human Rights (Refugee and Migrant rights Programme (RMRP)) at Johannesburg: 011 339 1960. Email: lhr@lhr.org.za

  • Legal Resources Centre: Email: info@lrc.org.za

  • PASSOP: Cape Town: 021 762 0322

Answered on April 5, 2019, 10:13 a.m.

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