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There are three general grounds for the granting of South African citizenship: Birth, descentnaturalization. The "determination of citizenship" process may lead to the confirmation of an existing right to South African citizenship. Persons who were previously in possession of the South African citizenship and have subsequently lost it may very well be able to reclaim their status.
A naturalisation may generally be applied for if the foreigner has lived in South Africa for 5 years on the basis of a valid permanent residence. For spouses of South Africans this time frame is reduced to 2 years.
It should be noted that a foreign citizenship may automatically be lost if another (e.g. South African) citizenship is applied for. In some cases this can be avoided if prior permission to retain the original citizenship has been granted by the foreign authorities.
There are certain scenarios in which dual citizenship is allowed by both affected countries. There is repeated and ongoing discussion about disallowing dual citizenship altogether and forcing dual citizens to choose between their citizenships. There is currently no single valid regulation or legislation in this regard. In some cases, however, persons may have lost their original citizenship when taking on a new one without even being aware of it.
In specific cases, former South African citizens have an automatic right to permanent residence. Where a citizenship by birth has been lost, the former citizen usually has an automatic right to permanent residence, which right needs to be officially confirmed. The situation is similar in certain cases of former Namibian (i.e. South West African) AND South African citizens, whose South African citizenship was automatically withdrawn when Namibia gained political independence from South Africa.
Since the legislation concerning citizenship in South African and in most other countries is highly complex, it is advisable to seek professional advice. IMCOSA will gladly assist with any citizenship requirements.