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Dual Citizenship and the right to retain your SA citizenship

citizenship dual citizenship permission letter permission

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#1 Johnno

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:31 PM

With the benefit of hindsight, access to internet searches or hearing from friends and fellow Saffers abroad that.....

"The South African Citizenship Act provides for retention of South African citizenship PRIOR to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship. A condition of attaining dual citizenship for all South African citizens aged 18 years or older is that they must apply and be granted permission to retain their South African citizenship prior to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship". Further details here

But, what happens if you did not know? What happens if you applied for and acquired foreign citizenship and now, after you have your citizenship of another country you realise that "If a South African citizen does not obtain this prior permission they will automatically lose their South African citizenship on voluntary acquisition of a foreign citizenship." This has happened to me and my family so I contacted the Dept. Home Affairs (DHA) and I was told that since we did not apply for the permission letter, the SA Citizenship of my wife and I (our kids are under 18) has automatically been renounced.

I enquired about having our citizenship reinstated which I'm told is possible, well sort of!

If you were born in SA it's your birthright to always have the right to permanent residence. All you need to do is move back (yes, on a tourist visa valid for 90 days) and start the process to reinstate your permanent residence. My wife however was born in UK and got SA citizenship through naturalisation when she was a child. Tough luck, she needs to start from scratch and has no rights to reinstate her permanent residence or citizenship.

I've contacted DHA and had no joy talking to them so I turned to the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Manny de Freitas. He at least replied to my emails and actually sympathises with me. The reason why he is sympathetic to my problem is that I did not know about the permission letter until I had acquired Aus citizenship. Nowhere in our passports does it say that we need to apply for permission and nowhere did the Australian Authorities inform us that we needed to acquire DHA permission. Of course it's not the Australians fault or responsibility but it is the responsibility of DHA to ensure that their citizens are informed of this very important information. The obvious place to post such information is in a current passport or have a relationship with Dept of Immigration of countries like Britain, Ireland, NZ, Aus, Canada, USA etc where Saffers would commonly apply for citizenship.

Sorry for the long-winded story but I really feel like those of us who unknowingly acquired the citizenship of another country without applying for the permission for dual citizenship letter really need to stand together. I'm not asking DHA for an exemption or any different treatment other than asking them to accept the application for permission even after the foreign citizenship has been granted. There's a FaceBook page for those interested and the more support the better.

http://www.facebook....alSACitizenship

Looking forward to hearing from people caught in a similar situation.

PS! Even if your not in a similar position please spread the word about the Face Book page.

Attached is a scan of my SA passport Conditions of Issue and no mention if permission for dual citizenship being required.
Attached File  SA Passport (Conditions of Issue).jpg   121.83KB   0 downloads

Edited by Johnno, 14 December 2012 - 10:41 PM.


#2 HadEnoughofJuju

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:44 PM

Although I don't like to admit this openly, I am in the same boat, I currently live and was born in South Africa but acquired British Citizenship about 5 years ago without knowing about this permission letter thing. I was just wondering what they would do if I did not apply for permission to have dual citizenship, maybe I get a free ticket out of here. :P

#3 Sa2Nz2Oz

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:05 AM

I applied for my French passport prior to getting my NZ citizenship and didnt know about this dual citizenship letter, when I got my NZ citizenship I did get that dual citizenship letter. So I dont know if the SA government knows anything about my French Passport because I didnt say anything when I got the dual citizenship for NZ? Probably so chaotic at Home Affairs with all records?? Couldnt Care anyway!

#4 18yearsoutofrsa

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:15 AM

Although I don't like to admit this openly, I am in the same boat, I currently live and was born in South Africa but acquired British Citizenship about 5 years ago without knowing about this permission letter thing. I was just wondering what they would do if I did not apply for permission to have dual citizenship, maybe I get a free ticket out of here. :P


I hope you're applying for Australian PR on your British passport.

#5 HadEnoughofJuju

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:06 AM

I hope you're applying for Australian PR on your British passport.


According to agents I can't apply on the British passport because that is not the country of permanent residence. I have never lived there, I just have the passport.



Edited by HadEnoughofJuju, 15 December 2012 - 03:07 AM.


#6 18yearsoutofrsa

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:38 AM

According to agents I can't apply on the British passport because that is not the country of permanent residence. I have never lived there, I just have the passport.


But you can't apply on your South African passport because you are not a citizen and therefore cannot hold an RSA passport.

How did you get a British passport by naturalization if you've never lived there?
You only lose your RSA citizenship if you become a naturalized citizen, not if you are a citizen by birth or decent.

I suspect you have not lost your RSA citizenship.

Edited by 16yearsoutofrsa, 15 December 2012 - 03:39 AM.


#7 HadEnoughofJuju

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 04:06 AM

Got British citizenship by descent not naturalisation so I guess that means I'm safe. Don't see the difference though, dual nationality is dual nationality no matter how you got it.
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#8 benp

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 06:04 AM

According to agents I can't apply on the British passport because that is not the country of permanent residence. I have never lived there, I just have the passport.


Bollocks, your agents must give you your money back, there is absolutely no such rule, I used my european passport, I'm in the same situation as you, and visa granted with no issues around passport.

#9 OubaasDik

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:14 AM

Got British citizenship by descent not naturalisation so I guess that means I'm safe. Don't see the difference though, dual nationality is dual nationality no matter how you got it.


The letter thing is about you taking a step to get the other citizenship - ie applying for naturalisation. In HEOJ's case he was already a Bloody Pom by descent (and you can't descend much further than that *joke*). All he did was apply for a passport to go with the citizenship.

You should be fine. BUT, I am not a lawyer, neither do I play one on TV.

#10 pietkoos

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:48 AM

Hi forumites

For what it's worth: had friends in the UK who did not get permission for dual c/ship and they had to reapply for working permits on return to SA and had to go through some formalities to get it back. Unfortunately ignorance of the law, also in most other countries, is seldom an excuse for such a case. We did it in 2005/6 as it just came in as a requirement. My kids under 18 at the time was exempt of this letter that was required. Obviously does not help if you have to work via an office that is ignorant of the law out of habit either!!
Good luck.

#11 OubaasDik

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:00 PM

... and yet section 20 of the SA Bill of Rights in the constitution says "no citizen may be deprived of citizenship." See http://www.info.gov..../96cons2.htm#20

But. hey, it's only paper, and probably a "living document" that can be amended at will.
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#12 18yearsoutofrsa

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:45 PM

When someone recognises my accent and asks if I'm South African I respond with "No, but I lived there for a long time"
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#13 Johnno

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 06:56 PM

When someone recognises my accent and asks if I'm South African I respond with "No, but I lived there for a long time"

I'm not embarrassed to be South African. It's where I was born, it's where my parents and their parents were born, it's my culture and my identity. I'm no more proud of what the current SA leadership is doing as I am of what the past government did as there is nothing to be proud of but I will not throw away my identity. The mere fact that people still frequent SA discussion forums like this is an indication that there is still a connection, but most have not figured out what it is :whome:

Edited by Johnno, 16 December 2012 - 10:58 AM.

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#14 Johnno

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:21 PM

Hi forumites

For what it's worth: had friends in the UK who did not get permission for dual c/ship and they had to reapply for working permits on return to SA and had to go through some formalities to get it back. Unfortunately ignorance of the law, also in most other countries, is seldom an excuse for such a case. We did it in 2005/6 as it just came in as a requirement. My kids under 18 at the time was exempt of this letter that was required. Obviously does not help if you have to work via an office that is ignorant of the law out of habit either!!
Good luck.


Pietkoos, I do no not believe that this is a matter of ignorance of the citizen. It's a case of the Minister of Dept. of Home Affairs failing to meet their duty of care and taking all reasonable steps to ensure that citizens applying for nationality of another country are advised of such a law / requirement. The only place to display this important information would be in the section "Conditions of Issue" printed in the SA Passport. As per my pic inserted in the opening post, the current passport does not mention anything about taking out or applying for foreign citizenship. To expect citizens to stumble across this information on websites or hearsay from family and friends is simply not fulfilling their duty of care obligations. If the penalty was a small fine then that's acceptable but automatically cancelling citizenship is the ultimate punishment! I am suggesting that the Minister of Home Affairs allows some kind of amnesty and then includes the dual citizenship laws (permission letter requirements) in the Conditions of Issue in all new SA passports!

Here's a copy of my old passport (not current) which was issued in 1993 and was valid until 2003 when I received a new passport. The old passport clearly informed citizens about foreign citizenship laws. It’s a bad copy, below is the actual wording.

Attached File  SA Passport -OLD(Conditions of Issue pg2).jpg   172.01KB   0 downloads

Loss of South African Citizenship:
A South African citizen loses his citizenship if he, whilst outside the Republic of South Africa and not being a minor, by some voluntary and formal act, other than marriage, acquires the citizenship or nationality of another country .

A South African citizen by registration or naturalisation may in certain circumstances lose his South African citizenship by continued residence abroad.

South African citizens are strongly advised to register with the nearest South African representative abroad. Failure to register or thereafter to report any change of address, may cause difficulty and delay rendering assistance and protection.

Dual Nationality:
Persons born abroad of South Africa parents, or born in South Africa to alien parents, women who are or have been married and naturalised persons may possibly also possess, in addition to South Africa citizenship, the nationality of a foreign country. When in that foreign country, such persons cannot avail themselves of the protection of South African representatives against the authorities of the foreign country and are not exempt by reason of possessing South African citizenship, from any obligation (such as military service) to which they may be liable under the foreign law.

Surrender of South Africa passports:
The bearer of a South African passport may not hold a passport of another country at the same time. The validity of this passport expires and it must be surrendered to the Department of Home Affairs or the nearest South African representative whenever the holder-
1. Loses, relinquishes or is deprived of his South African Citizenship
2. Possesses, in addition to South African citizenship, the citizenship or nationality of another country and applies for a passport of that country
3. Obtains a passport of another country under any circumstances what-soever.






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