Struggling to be with South African boyfriend


My South African boyfriend and I (from the UK) have been together for 5 years. The first two years were spent in the UK and travelling, I then moved to SA for 3 years and stayed on a life-partner/spousal visa.

In Feb this year, I reluctantly returned to the UK as it was proving impossible for us to live without my being able to work.

I am not qualified for anything, except for a BA Dance degree - not an in demand profession!

My boyfriend cannot work in the UK as he cannot renew the visa he was originally on. We also really want our lives to be in SA.

I am currently doing my TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) and am applying to teach in Korea for a year or two. I am doing this because we consumed every cent we had trying to be together, and we have some family debt to pay off as well. Korea pay pretty well and I can hopefully save enough for us to start over.

I then want to upgrade my TEFL to a CELTA qualification and attempt to get work in a language school based in Cape Town, using my overseas experience and qualification to try get a work visa sponsored.

Please help me to discover if this would be a viable solution.

We are ready to be married, will that help our cause?

We just want to be together but it seems close to impossible!

Any advise would be very appreciated, thank you xxx


S11(6) of the Immigration Act provides for a Life Partner Permit, which will allow a foreign nationa to to reside with their South African partner.

You DO NOT need to get married to be allowed to apply for a Life Partner Permit, as each South African national has a constitutional right to have their (foreign) partner reside with them in South Africa.

If you have a job offer by the time you wish to submit the application, one can add a work endorsement to the permit, allowing you to work.

Instead of the work endorsement you may add a business endorsement to the Life Partner Permit, allowing you run your own business.

If you get married, you will need to apply for a Spousal Permit (instead of the Life Partner Permit). The only difference in the two permits is the marriage certificate.

Once you have been in a relationship for 5 years, or married for 5 years, you may apply for Permanent Residency. Please note that if you have been in a relationship for 4 years and then get married, the 5 years start from the beginning. Big flaw in Home Affairs' interpretation!

Haveing Permanent Residency will allow you to also apply for a South African ID.

Once you have had Permanent Residency for 5 years, you may apply for citizenship.

Please note that although a foreigner has a constitutional right, and even when you qualify for certain residency status', you will still need to apply at Home Affairs. Home Affairs will not simply "give" you anything.

Home Affairs will still verify that you are not an "undesirable person" in terms of the immigration act.

Hope this helps.

Thanks so much for the information. If we get married, we will have been together for over 5 years. Will it matter that I have not resided in South Africa for the whole 5 years?

Thanks again!


Referring to my post "Please note that if you have been in a relationship for 4 years and then get married, the 5 years start from the beginning." Thus is you have been in a relationship for 4 years, then I would suggest that you wait until you get 5 years and then apply for Permanent Residency.

If you get married after a 4 year relationship, you will need to wait anothr 5 years before you can apply for Permanent Residency.

It does not matter whether you were in SA or not. Key would be to prove the 5 years.

Hi - I too have really struggled to get employment as people don't class 'support workers' as I am as Skilled workers. However, with some determination and really putting myself out there I have managed to get employment with the necessary sponsorship for a work permit. I think if you can, networking is reallt valuable. I play sport so have been able to make business contacts through that. Also, if you can get out there to see recruitment agents and potential employers, I have found once they meet you it makes a whole lot of difference to just emailing your CV. I'd also suggest not making a big deal about having a permit or not when you apply. If your CV is in good enough shape just apply through the normal channels and don't mention it. If you're worth your weight in terms of a CV or qualifications you'll find people here will be won over once they meet you. Business is done a lot more here by face to face value.

It took me a long while to get there but don't loose hope and keep networking it will be worth it in the end and you will find employment with someone who will sign off your home affairs forms.

Welcome on board Maddyjvn30 :)

Thanks for sharing your experience ;)