Governments around the world employ various systems to allow foreigners to reside within their borders. The requirements for indefinite residence vary from country to country. In Ghana, a foreigner may be granted "indefinite residence permit" to reside here indefinitely. The purpose of this article is to equip you with the requirements and processes for applying for indefinite residence permit in Ghana.
Our discussion on this subject is under the following heads:
- What is indefinite residence permit?
- What are the benefits of indefinite residence permit?
- Who can apply for indefinite residence permit?
- What are the requirements for indefinite residence permit?
- What documents do I need to apply for indefinite residence permit?
- I am married to a Ghanaian. Do I have any advantages?
- How long will my application take?
- Can I lose my indefinite residence status?
- Can I regain my status after losing it?
- Can my dependents apply for indefinite residence permit?
What is indefinite residence permit?
Indefinite residence permit is implicit in the word "indefinite". This means that a person with indefinite residence permit is free to live in Ghana for as long as they want. They may go in and out of Ghana as many times as they want, without ever applying for a visa or renewing their permits. They can also work in Ghana, set up a business, or practice their profession without the need for a work permit.
What are the benefits of indefinite residence permit?
- You can go in and out of Ghana without restriction.
- You can live in Ghana for as long as you want.
- You can work in Ghana, set up a business, or practice your trade or profession without a work permit.
- Your dependents can apply for residence permits to live with you.
- It provides a pathway to citizenship.
In summary, indefinite residence permit saves cost and time because it provides a solution to cutting down costs on annual renewals and provides a pathway to citizenship.
Who can apply for indefinite residence permit?
There are two groups of persons who can apply for indefinite residence permit in Ghana.
- General Applicants
- Spouses of Ghanaian citizens
As is common in many countries, residents who have demonstrated commitment to Ghana may make Ghana their permanent home. Below is a breakdown of all you need to know on the subject.
What are the requirements for indefinite residence permit?
- Applicants must satisfy a residence requirement. You must have lived in Ghana for an aggregate period of 6 years within an 8-year period. You must have lived in Ghana for a continuous period of one year at the time you are applying. This one year is counted as part of the 6-year period. In counting residence, periods of stay outside Ghana are excluded.
- You must be of good character. You will require two Ghanaians who are lawyers, notaries public, or senior public officers to confirm this. You must not have been convicted and imprisoned for a term of 12 months or more.
- You must be capable of making a substantial contribution to the development of Ghana.
- You must intend to reside permanently in Ghana upon grant of the status and possess a valid residence permit at the date of the application.
What documents do I need to apply for indefinite residence permit?
The application must made to the Director of Immigration on Form G with all supporting documents. The application must generally be supported by the following:
- Copy of biodata page of passport
- 4 passport photos
- Character references from two Ghanaians with copies of their national IDs
- Copies of residence permits, including a valid one
- Police report from Ghana
- Documentation or evidence to prove substantial contribution to Ghana
- Copy of noncitizen ID
- Medical examination certificate
- Evidence to prove substantial contribution to Ghana
The Form along with supporting documents must be submitted to the Immigration authorities for consideration. Upon receipt of the application, the authorities will assess the application, and transmit same along with a recommendation to the Ministry of Interior. If the application is approved, you will be notified by a letter of approval directing you to pay a stated fee and submit your passport.
I am married to a Ghanaian. Do I have any advantages?
If you are married to a Ghanaian, you will have the benefit of more favorable eligibility requirements. For example, you only need to live in Ghana for an aggregate period of 3 years to qualify, compared to 6 years residence for general applicants. In addition, whiles general applicants must accumulate 6 years residence within an 8-year period, there is no such restriction for foreign spouses. You qualify to apply if your total aggregate residence is 3 years.
Again, whiles general applicants must prove substantial contribution to Ghana, there is no such requirement for foreign spouses.
In addition, a foreign spouse may apply for indefinite residence permit even if their marriage to their Ghanaian spouse is no longer in existence. This could by reason of divorce, separation, or death of their Ghanaian spouse. The only requirement is to prove that their marriage was contracted in good faith.
How long will my application take?
There is no published guidance for processing times. Applicants are usually told to check in within 3 months of submitting the application. In practice, processing takes a while longer, usually up to 6 months.
It is advisable to make regular and consistent follow ups for updates on the case status. It is equally important to get all paperwork in shape before submitting the application. The submission of incorrect or incomplete information may often cause a hold up in processing and may result in considerable delay.
Can I lose my Indefinite Resident status?
If you remain outside Ghana for more than 12 consecutive months, you will automatically lose the status. You were granted indefinite residence permit to reside permanently in Ghana upon the grant of the status. It is the policy that absences from Ghana for a consecutive period of 12 months is inconsistent with the intention to reside permanently here.
Can I regain my status after losing it?
Yes. You may apply for reinstatement, though this will be treated as a fresh application. You must provide evidence to show that you were kept out Ghana due to circumstances beyond your control. You must equally show renewed commitments to Ghana as proof that you do intend to abandon your residence and that you intend to reside permanently here.
Can my dependents apply for indefinite residence permit?
Eligibility for indefinite residence permit is set out by law. Therefore, all persons, including dependents must individually meet the requirements on their own. There are no carried over benefits that are transmitted to dependents. A person cannot qualify for indefinite residence solely on the basis that they are a dependent. To be eligible, they must qualify in their own right. However, dependents may apply for residence permits.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.