Citizenship status and applying for citizenship are complex areas of citizenship regulation. Many South Africans abroad have put their citizenship status at jeopardy by not following legislation and many immigrants are confused about permanent residency status versus citizenship.
The below information is designed as a guide but we recommend that enquiries specific to your circumstances be forwarded to us using the link below.
South African citizenship can be lost if the following is acquired:
- While not being a minor, acquires the citizenship or nationality of another country other than South African by the process of naturalization.
- Has the citizenship or nationality of another country, serves in that country’s armed forces, while being at war with the Republic.
- Return to South Africans requiring information about citizenship.
How do I check my South African citizenship status?
If you suspect that your South African citizenship may have been compromised, the solution would be to apply for a ‘Determination of Citizenship’ with the nearest Department of Home Affairs office or South Africa Consulate/Embassy.
How long does it take to check?
The ‘Determination of Citizenship’ takes approximately 8 – 12 months to be finalized.
What if I have dual citizenship?
If you have acquired dual citizenship – and suspect that this has been compromised in any way – the solution would be to apply for a ‘Determination of Citizenship’.
What happens if my citizenship is lost?
If you were a South African citizen by birth or decent, and the result is that you have lost your citizenship, you may be granted immediate permanent residence. Thereafter, you have the right to apply for resumption. To implement this right, you will be required to permanently reside in South Africa.
If you obtained South African citizenship through naturalization (you were once a permanent resident in the county and applied for citizenship after the required years residing in the Republic), you may have the result of permanent residency and will need to apply for citizenship again.
I am going to apply for citizenship in another country. What must I do?
If you are wishing to apply for citizenship of another country, and do not wish for your South African citizenship to be compromised, you will be required to apply to the Minister of Home Affairs in order to retain your South African citizenship before acquiring the citizenship of another country.
Where can I get professional help?
Get in touch with us today.
Immigrants requiring information about citizenship
When can I apply for citizenship?
Permanent Resident holders of 5 or more years can apply for South African citizenship. Any person married to a South African citizen qualifies for naturalization two years after receiving permanent residence at the time of their marriage. A child under 21 years old who has permanent residence is able to apply for citizenship immediately after the permanent residency has been received.
What is the difference between citizenship and permanent residency?
If you have received permanent residence, you have all the rights and responsibilities of a South African citizenship, except for the right to vote in the South African elections and the right to use a South African passport. For both, citizenship and permanent residence, a South African Identity Document can be applied for (over the age of 16 years), but the status would either be ‘SA Citizen’ or ‘Non-citizen’.
Can I be turned down for citizenship?
The Minister of Home Affairs can deprive or revoke a South African citizen by naturalization’s status, if:
- The certificate of naturalization was obtained fraudulently or false information was given.
- The person holds the citizenship of another country and has, at any time, been sentence to 12 months imprisonment that would also be an offence in South Africa.
A person can be deprived of their citizenship due to usage of foreign citizenship to gain an advantage or avoid a responsibility while in the Republic (this could also lead to imprisonment or a fine being issued).
If a citizen enters or leaves the Republic on a foreign passport this is an offense. Please be aware that the Act does mention, but is not clear, that the result of this can be the deprivation of the person’s South African citizenship.
If I am turned down does it affect my Permanent Residency Status?
This is dependant on the reasons given for the rejection of citizenship. If reasoning for the rejection is because of false information or fraudulent documentation, the Minister may decide to revoke permanent residency. But, for other reasoning, there should not be any effects to permanent residence status.
Do I have to renounce my other citizenship?
South Africa allows dual nationality, but please check with your country of origin on the processes from the government involved before applying for South African citizenship. This is recommended because not all countries allow dual nationality.