Life Partner Visa
The Life Partner or Permanent Relationship Visa is a type of Relative’s Visa used to address the situation of people involved in permanent, good faith relationships, where one of the members of the couple is a South African citizen or Permanent Residence holder and the other member wants to reside with their partner and therefore immigrate to South Africa. Examples of permanent relationships could be a long-term, cohabiting boyfriend-girlfriend couple, or a common law marriage (association by co-habitation). South Africa was the 6th country globally to accept same-sex couples under this visa category.
Unlike the Spousal Visa, there is not necessarily a formal signed document governing the relationship. The prescribed duration for the permanent relationship in applying for the Life Partner Visa is two years. It is necessary to prove that the relationship is of a serious and lasting nature by providing various documents. This may be done via a sworn affidavit, proof of cohabitation and proof of shared financial responsibility. Each case is assessed individually.
Partners who apply for the Life Partner Visa may qualify for Permanent Residence if they are able to prove that the relationship has been in existence for longer than five years and kept in good faith. In cases where the relationship has not been in existence for longer than five years, the partner should apply for Temporary Residence, which is valid for three years and can be renewed, as long as the relationship is still in existence.
As with the Spousal Visa, there are advantages to obtaining the Life Partner Visa which differ from other Relative’s Visa types. Holders of the Life Partner Visa, for example, do not need to apply for a Work Visa or Business Visa if they wish to work or conduct business in South Africa. The procedure that is usually followed is to apply for a Work or Business Endorsement to the Life Partner Visa, thereby allowing the holder to engage in economic activity. This will however change the status of the visa of the holder to a Section 11, which is a Visitor’s Visa, since work or business activities are not allowed on a Relative’s Visa. This is usually confusing for applicants, however is the correct procedure.
As mentioned, for the purposes of the Life Partner Visa, due to South Africa’s progressive human rights policies, homosexual couples are treated in the same manner as heterosexual couples.