Foreign workers may hold dual citizenship in South Africa

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Foreigners who live and work in South Africa may be concerned that they will have to renounce citizenship of other countries if they wish to apply for South African citizenship.
South Africa permits dual citizenship, which allows easier access into other countries for those who want to conduct business or work freely in several parts of the globe. However, it is important for travellers who have dual citizenship to be aware that they must always use their South African passport when entering or leaving South Africa.


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Foreigners who live and work in South Africa may be concerned that they will have to renounce citizenship of other countries if they wish to apply for South African citizenship.
South Africa permits dual citizenship, which allows easier access into other countries for those who want to conduct business or work freely in several parts of the globe.
However, it is important for travellers who have dual citizenship to be aware that they must always use their South African passport when entering or leaving South Africa.
Other passports may be used for travel outside of the country.
Citizenship Vs Permanent residence
Immigrants are often confused about the difference between citizenship and permanent residence.
Citizenship gives an individual the right to participate in the political activities of that country, to vote and to receive state protection if required.
It also entitles that person to receive state benefits such as housing, medical aid and pension, provided they are eligible for such benefits.
Permanent residence limits the person?s rights to working, studying or travelling in South Africa, as defined by the type of permit granted to them.
Permanent residence holders may apply for citizenship after living in South Africa for at least five years.
The five-year period need not be continuous, but the person must have lived in South Africa during the year preceding application.
The remaining four years must fall within an eight-year period before the date of application.
A person may become a South African citizen by birth, descent or naturalisation.
Citizenship by birth or descent is the legal right of anyone who can prove their place of birth and parentage.
The South African Citizenship Act of 1995 states that any child born in South Africa after 1995 is a South African citizen if one of its parents is a South African citizen or permanent resident.
Children born to foreigners living in South Africa are also legally recognised as South African citizens in cases where they are not eligible for citizenship of any other country.
This can occur when both parents are citizens of countries whose laws prevent children born outside of the country from being able to claim citizenship.
South African law allows children born outside the Republic to claim citizenship through descent.
For a child to be eligible, one of its parents must be a South African citizen, and that parent must register the child?s birth at the nearest South African embassy or consulate, or Home Affairs office.
Children who are adopted by South Africans can also claim citizenship by birth or descent, provided the adoption is a legal one agreed to by a court.
The rules relating to their citizenship are the same as those for children born to natural parents.
Foreign worker application process
If a citizen of another country wishes to have South African citizenship, he may apply to the Minister of Home Affairs.
Certain conditions must be fulfilled: the person must be over the age of 21; must have a permanent residence permit to live in South Africa; must have lived in South Africa for at least five years before applying for citizenship; must be able to communicate in one of the country?s official languages; and must be of good character.
The Minister may refuse an application even if the applicant seems to fulfill all these conditions, as citizenship by naturalisation is considered a privilege and not a legal right.
South African citizenship can be taken away from an individual who has citizenship of another country.
This could happen if that person renounces his South African citizenship voluntarily; votes in another country?s elections or uses a passport issued in another country without the South African Ministry of Home Affairs? permission.
An individual who serves in the armed forces of any country while it is at war with South Africa will also lose his South African citizenship.
Leon Isaacson is the MD of Global Migration, a national immigration company that advises companies and individual clients about immigration options and opportunities in South Africa.
Phone 021 4190934 or visit www.globalimsa.com.


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