Answer to a question from a reader

I live in South Africa illegally but I have a five-year-old child that is a South African citizen. What can I do to secure my status?

The short answer

You should qualify for a spousal visa, but you will probably need legal help

The whole question

I have lived in South Africa since 2006, albeit illegally. Since 2012, me and my South African girlfriend have cohabited and we have a five-year-old son. I did a DNA test for Home Affairs to give him my surname. Is there anything i can do to fix my status?

The long answer

Thank you for your letter asking what you can do to fix your status in South Africa.

If you applied for a spousal visa, you would need to show Home Affairs the following: 

Proof of your partner’s South African citizenship.
For a permanent spousal visa you need to prove that you have been married or living together for at least five years and are dependent on each other financially, emotionally and physically. For a temporary spousal visa there isn’t a minimum period you need to have been married or co-habiting.
A letter of support from your South African partner.
Proof of your good mental and physical health ie a medical report.
A completed temporary residence application form.

Since you have lived with your South African partner since 2012 and have a five year-old son together, one would think that you should qualify for a spousal visa, but the problem you will likely encounter with Home Affairs is that you have been here illegally.

For this reason I think you need to get some legal advice on how best to proceed. You could contact the following organisations:

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town at, tel: 021 465 6433
Lawyers for Human Rights at: Musina 0115 534 2203, Durban 031 301 0531, Pretoria 012 320 2943, Johannesburg 011 339 1960.
Legal Resources Centre at in Johannesburg at 011 836 9831 and Cape Town at 021 481 3000

Answered on Dec. 12, 2019, 10:47 a.m.

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