According to South African immigration legislation, the spouse of a South African citizen or Permanent Residence holder qualifies for Permanent Residence in the country, on the basis of the marital relationship.
In order for the spouse to qualify for Permanent Residence, a couple needs to prove that the marriage is valid (by submitting the marriage certificate), and that the relationship has existed for more than five years. It is important to note, however, that in cases where the marriage has existed for less than five years, the immigrating spouse may apply only for Temporary Residence.
There are various advantages to qualifying for residence on the basis of marriage. Spouses who wish to establish a business or to work in South Africa do not need to apply for a business permit or work permit. The usual procedure is to make an endorsement to the Spousal Permit, thereby allowing the spouse to conduct business or to work in the country.
According to the Constitution of South Africa, it is illegal to discriminate against homosexual couples, and homosexual relationships are therefore treated in the same way as heterosexual relationships for the purposes of the Spousal Permit.