Answer to a question from a reader

Can I use my late father’s documents to apply for a study permit in South Africa? He was Zimbabwean but had a non-citizen SA ID.

The short answer

Your father's permanent residence in South Africa does not give you access to study in South Africa.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

Can I use my late father’s documents to apply for a study permit in South Africa, as although he was Zimbabwean, he had a non-citizen SA ID book? I have his death certificate and I have a passport (I was born in Zimbabwe). 

The long answer

The fact that your father had a non-citizen SA ID book indicates that he was a permanent resident. Unfortunately, as you were born in Zimbabwe, his permanent residence in South Africa does not give you any more rights than any other Zimbabwean wishing to study in South Africa.

That means that you will have to apply for a study permit at VFS centres across the country near the educational institution you will be studying at, or at the nearest South African embassy, mission, or consulate abroad.

The address of the South African Embassy in Harare is:

7 Elcombe Street, Belgravia, Harare, P.O. Box A1654

Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe

Telephone: (+263) 242-753 147 / 8 / 9

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) which issues the visa will require the following documents:

  • A machine-readable passport that will be valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure;

  • A completed application form (Form BI-1738);

  • The itinerary and addresses where you will be staying in South Africa;

  • Proof of sufficient funds to support you while in South Africa;

  • If a third party will be supporting you, a copy of the third party’s ID;

  • Relevant vaccination certificates and medical records;

  • Proof of medical insurance coverage for the whole period of the studies;

  • An official letter from the educational institution in South Africa confirming that you have been offered a place;

  • Visa processing fees.

So, all the above looks pretty expensive, but you can also ask the institutions where you want to study if you would qualify for any bursaries or scholarships. says: “A study visa can be issued for the duration of the applicant’s studies at the learning institution concerned.  If the applicant changes schools, then a new study visa must be applied for … In respect of tertiary education, the duration of the visa is only limited by the duration of the degree, diploma, or certificate concerned. There is no limit on the number of times a study visa can be renewed.”

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 19, 2023, 9:49 a.m.

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