Permanent residency and citizenship

The White Paper wants to change the way permanent residency and citizenship are granted. The White Paper wants to de-link temporary residency and refugee status leading to permanent residency all together. The White Paper also wants to de-link permanent residency leading to citizenship.

Instead, it plans to provide:

  • A ‘long-term residence’ instead of permanent residency, which would be accessible by certain migrants such as highly-skilled migrants on a fast-track system. This would not lead to citizenship;
  • Citizenship, but only to be granted by the Minister of Home Affairs in exceptional cases, after being advised and considered by a new Citizenship Advisory Panel (CAO).

In our submissions, we expressed concern around de-linking refugee status and permanent residency. Permanent residency is currently only granted to refugees who, after careful assessment, are considered to be in ‘indefinite’ need of protection as they are fleeing conflict or persecution that shows no sign of reconciling.4 According to the White Paper itself, between 2014 and 2016, only 4% of permanent residency applications were made by those with refugee status. Currently, the application to permanent residency via refugee status is an elongated, and careful procedure – and as such does not constitute a ‘pull factor’ for refugees coming to South Africa, as the White Paper claims.