Answer to a question from a reader

Can I get permanent residency if my parent does, and I have lived in SA for more than five years?

The short answer

Yes, if you are a dependent of a permanent residence holder and are aged under 21 years. But there is a massive backlog at Home Affairs.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

Both my parents are from Mozambique, but my father has a South African ID because he has been here for more than 25 years. I was born in Mozambique but I have lived in South Africa since I started school. I want to apply for an ID but Home Affairs said I must apply for permanent residency first, which has a waiting period of five years. Can it be allowed if I have proof that I have been here for more than five years?

The long answer

Unfortunately, in terms of Section 26 (c) of the Immigration Act, it seems that you are only entitled to apply for permanent residence (direct residence) on the basis of your father having permanent residence and you being his dependent, if you are under 21 years. And, as you have pointed out, this could take five years, given the backlog of applications for permanent residence at Home Affairs. 

As you probably know, Home Affairs closed down all applications for permanent residence at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and only re-opened applications in January 2022. They have an estimated 50,000 applications in backlog.

As not having an ID is a very serious deprivation, it may be worth consulting with organisations that have had plenty of experience in dealing with Home Affairs, and seeing if they can suggest anything that might help to speed up the process.

These organisations and their contact details are:

  • Lawyers for Human Rights 

Their general email is They have four offices: 

Johannesburg: 078 315 1269

Durban: 078 301 0531

Musina: 076 766 7782

Cape Town: 021 424 8561

  • Legal Resources Centre 



Cape Town: 021 879 2398

Johannesburg: 011 038 9709

Durban: 031 301 7572

Makhanda: 046 622 9230

  • Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town


 Tel: 021 45 6433

Wishing you the best,

Answered on June 10, 2022, 3:59 p.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.