A foreigner, who intends conducting work in the Republic of South Africa, with or without remuneration or reward must apply for a work visa. A temporary residence visa issued at a foreign mission of the Republic of South Africa is deemed to be of force and effect only after an admission i.e. a temporary residence visa shall be affixed to the passport of the applicant and shall only be valid if an entry stamp has been affixed thereto at the port of entry and the date of such entry stamp shall be the effective date.
Definition of Work
Conducting any activity normally associated with the running of a specific business; or
Being employed or conducting activities consistent with being employed or consistent with the profession of the person, with or without remuneration or reward, within the Republic.
Foreigners who intend to work in the Republic, with or without remuneration or reward, must apply for a work visa either of the following categories namely:
Short Term Work
A Short Term work visa is issued to a foreigner purely conducting short term work for a period not exceeding 3 months in the Republic.
The Department of Home affairs is rather stringent in the issuance of a short term work visa, reason being, a short term work visa should not be used as a interim measure, with the intention of obtaining a long term work visa.
The department of Home Affairs may consider the issuance of a further period of 90 days provided that:-
You may not exceed a period of 6 months in the calendar year of application.
The motivation furnished must be viable, supported with relevance evidence for such renewal.
Intra-Company Transfer work Visa
Issued to an employee being transferred to a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of that company in South Africa. An Intra-Company Transfer work visa shall be issued for a period not exceeding four (4) years. The holder of an Intra-Company Transfer work visa may conduct work only for the South African branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the company, which employs him or her abroad, and in accordance with the requirements set out in his or her visa.
Key elements of an Intra Company Transfer Work Visa
The contract of employment with the company abroad is valid for a period of not less than 6 months.
A letter from the company abroad confirming that the foreigner shall be transferred to a branch, subsidiary or an affiliate of that company in the Republic.
The branch, subsidiary or an affiliate in the Republic confirming the transfer of the foreigner and specifying the occupation and capacity in which that foreigner shall be employed.
The employer shall ensure that a foreigner is only employed in the specific position for which the visa has been issued.
It is an essential requirement that a plan is developed for the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident.
As a holder of an Intra company transfer work visa, any change of status is prohibited in country, unless such consent is obtained from the Minister in a form of an approved waiver.
Critical Skills Work Visa
Skilled workers are a critical resource for industrialized and knowledge based economies, hence the Department of Home Affairs publishes a list of critical skills from time to time skills that can not be obtained in the South African Labour market, in consultation with the Department of labour, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Higher education and training.
A critical skills work visa may be issued by the Director-General to an individual possessing such skills or qualifications determined to be critical for the Republic by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette.
A critical skill work visa is issued for a period of 5 years.
Confirmation in writing from the accredited professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA or any relevant government department confirming the skills or qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience.
Proof of application for certificate of registration with the accredited professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA.
Proof of Evaluation of the foreign qualifications by SAQA translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic.
Proof of employment within twelve(12) months after obtaining Critical Skills Work Visa in a form of an employment contract specifying the occupation and capacity in which the foreigner shall be employed.
As a holder of a Critical Skills Work Visa, you immediately qualify to apply for permanent residence for South Africa, including your immediate family.
General Work Visa
A General Work Visa maybe issued by the Director-General to a foreigner not falling within the critical skills work visa as contemplated per legislation. General Work Visa are only granted if there is no response to a job advert by a South African Citizen or a Permanent resident holder. This means that the employer must be satisfied that there no other persons in the Republic with suitable skills to fill such a vacancy before employing a foreign national.
The employer must prepare a skills transfer plan in respect of such position in which the foreign national will be employed.
A General Work visa application is rather stringent process and involves a certificate of approval from the Department of Labour, confirming that :-
Despite a diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable citizen or permanent resident with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant.
The applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer.
The salary and benefits of the applicant are not inferior to the average salary and benefit of citizens or permanent residents occupying similar positions in the Republic ; and
The contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment and signed by both the employer and the applicant is in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is made conditional upon the General Work Visa being approved.
The Department of Labour’s findings will be submitted directly to the employer or the employers representative.
Alternatively, if the employer is confident that they will not be able to find a South African Citizen or a Permanent Residence holder with the suitable qualifications or skills and experience equivilant to those of the applicant to fill the vacancy, the employer may apply to waive the certificate from the Department of Labour, provided that such evidence accompanies application.
Only upon approval of the waiver by the Minister, you may proceed to apply for a General Work Visa for a period not exceeding 5 years.
A Corporate Applicant (company) in the Republic may have an important need to employ a large number of foreign nationals in the Republic to perform a specialised task on a specific project or there may be a need for seasonal or temporary peak period employment.
The Corporate Applicant firstly has to prove to the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Labour and Department of Trade and Industry the need to employ the requested number of foreigners.
It is essential that the Corporate Applicant is satisfied that a diligent search had been conducted to find South African Citizens or Permanent Residence holders to occupy such positions prior to the commencement of the application.
No Corporate Visa may be issued or renewed in respect of business undertaking which is listed as undesirable by the Minister from time to time in the Gazette namely:-
Fast Food outlets and franchises
Cosmetic and Beauty Industry
A foreigner employed in terms of a Corporate Visa shall work for the holder of that Corporate Visa. Upon approval of a Corporate Visa, the Corporate Applicant will be issued:
Corporate Visa for a period not exceeding three years; and
Authorisation Certificates to employ Corporate Workers in terms of the Corporate Visa for the period not exceeding the validity period of the Corporate Visa.
As the application process involves the Department of Labour and Department of Trade and Industry, there are specific requirements hence on consultation a detail summary of the criteria and process would be outlined.
As a foreigner whom intends to establish a new business or invest in an existing business in South Africa, it is important to understand the criteria before proceeding to apply for a business visa-
The business must not fall within the list of undesirable business as published by Minister in the Government Gazette. The following businesses are deemed to be undesirable:-
Businesses that imports second hand motor vehicles into the Republic of South Africa for the purpose of exporting to other markets outside the Republic of South Africa.
The exotic entertainment industry.
(Refer to our resource centre for the list of desirable businesses)
The prescribed financial/capital contribution to be invested in an established or an existing business in South Africa is ZAR5 000000. The capital contribution must be in new machinery or equipment.
If the business is considered to be of national interest, the applicant can apply to the Minister of Home Affairs to have such required capital waived or if requested by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Followed by the above criteria and prior to commencement of the business visa application it is essential to obtain a letter of recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry regarding-
Feasibility of the business; and
The contribution to the national interest of the Republic.
In order to obtain such letter of recommendation, a formal application has to be completed and submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department of Trade and Industry has certain requirements, herewith is an overview of the requirements:-
Type of business and the nature of such business.
Business sector the business would be operating in eg: manufacturing.
Products/services being offered combined with future development.
Proof of Investment in South Africa and financial statements in respect of the preceding year if you intend to invest in an existing business.
It is essential to have a comprehensive business plan incorporating some of the following key elements, namely:-
Strategy of the business
Product and services
Potential forecast and sustainability of the business
Organisation and management
Job creation, including number of personnel to be employed , roles, proposed monthly salary
Other key elements that may be vital in supporting the application
The company registration with CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission), only if the company has been registered in South Africa.Once such letter of approval has been obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry, proceed to apply for a business visa adhering to the prescribed requirements including various undertakings per legislation. A business visa is issued for 3 years.
Visitors Visa for accompanying family, voluntry or charitable activies, and other purposes for up to a period of up to 3 years
In terms of legislation, a visitors visa may be issued by the Director-General, not exceeding 3 years to a foreigner that meets all prescribed requirements for the following activities/purpose in the Republic, namely:-
Accompanying family members to a holder of a work visa;
An Academic sabbatical;
Voluntary or charitable actives;
Any other prescribed activities
In exceptional circumstance in respect of holder of a visitors visa, who is an accompanying Spouse or child of a holder of the business or work visa who wishes to apply for a study or work visa, provided that all prescribed requirements have been met, shall be permitted to submit an application for a change of status in the Republic.
Visitors Visa issued to a Spouse or a Life partner to a South African Citizen or Permanent Resident
In terms of Legislation, a Visitors Visa maybe issued to a foreigner who is the spouse of a citizen or permanent resident, whom wishes to work, study or conduct business for a period of 3 years, provided that:-
Such visa shall only be valid while the good faith spousal relationship exists.
A holder of such a visa, can only apply for permanent residence within 3 months from the date upon which he or she qualifies to be issued with that visa. This means you have to be married for a period of 5 years.
A relative’s visa may be issued for maximum period of two (2) years at a time by the Director-General to a foreigner, who is a member of the immediate family (biological parents, children or siblings) of a South African citizen or permanent resident, provided that such citizen or permanent resident provides the prescribed financial assurance of R8000-00 per month per family member.
A Study Visa may be issued by the Department of Home Affairs, in the prescribed manner to a foreigner intending to study in the Republic for a period no less than the period of study.
An application for a study visa to study at a learning institution must be support by the documents from the learning institution of choice.
The Learning Institution must provide the following:
An official letter confirming provisional acceptance or acceptance at the learning institution and the duration of the course;
An undertaking by the Registrar or Principle of the learning institution to:–
Provide proof of registration as contemplated in the relevant legislation within 60days of registration; or
In the event of failure to register by the closing date, provide the director general with a notification of failure to register within 7 days of the closing date of registration.
Within 30 days of deregistration, notify the director general that the applicant is no longer registered with such institution; and
Within 30 days of completion of studies, notify the Director-general when the applicant has completed his or hers studies or requires to extended such h period of study.
Proof of medical cover, renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act. Please note short term travel insurance will not be accepted for a study visa application.
An undertaking by the parents or legal guardian confirming that the learner will have medical cover for the full duration of the period of study.
Proof of accommodation.
Visa’s issued for studies at a learning institutions, shall be valid for a duration of period of study. The study visa issued for studies at a primary school shall not exceed 8 years and for a secondary school shall not exceed 6 years.
Visa’s issued for studies at leaning institutions other than a school (University/FET College) will be issued for the duration of the course for which the applicant has registered.
The holder of a study visa at a learning institution as defined by the Higher Education Act and the Further Education and Training colleges Act may conduct part-time work for a period not exceeding 20 hours per week.
The Government Gazetted White Paper on International Migration for South Africa introduced new changes to the student visa regime in order to retain international students after graduation. South Africa will grant Permanent Residence Permits to critically skilled International Students and entrpreneurs that are produced by the South African Universities.
The date of the implementations of the changes to the Study visa regime in South Africa is yet to be ascertained.
A Treaty Visa may be issued to a foreigner conducting activities in the Republic in terms of an international agreement to which the Republic is a party to.
A treaty visa may be issued by:
The Director-General, as prescribed; or
A Department or another organ of state responsible for the implementation of the treaty concerned under a delegation from the Director-General, provided that:
Information relating to the failure of such foreigner to comply with the terms and conditions of the visa and to depart when required is conveyed to the Director-General.
The organ of state concerned satisfies the Director-General that, under the circumstances, it has the capacity to perform this function; and
The visa is issued in accordance with the prescribed requirements, procedures and forms.
A Medical Treatment Visa may be issued to a foreigner intending to receive medical treatment in the Republic for more than three months by:
The Director-General, as prescribed; or
The Director-General through the registrar’s office or a designated official of an institution where the foreigner intends to receive treatment, provided that such institution:-
has been approved by and is in good standing with the Director-General;
certifies that it has received guarantees to its satisfaction that such foreigner’s treatment costs will be paid;
in the case of a minor, provides the name of a person present in South Africa who is, or has accepted to act, as such minor’s guardian while in the Republic or certifies that such minor will be accompanied by a parent or guardian to the Republic;
undertakes to provide a prescribed periodic certification that such foreigner is under treatment; and
undertakes to notify the Director-General when such foreigner has completed his or her treatment
When so requested by and after consultation with the Department of Health, the Director-General shall determine an ad hoc fee for the issuance of medical treatment visas in respect of institutions which are publicly funded or subsidised.
A medical treatment visa maybe issued for a maximum period of 6 months at a time, and such visa does not entitle the holder to conduct work.
An Exchange Visa may be issued by the Director-General to a foreigner:-
Participating in a programme of cultural, economic or social exchange, organised or administered by an organ of state or a learning institution, in conjunction with a learning institution or an organ of a foreign state, provided that:
Such organ of state or learning institution reports to the Director-General on the stages and the completion of the relevant programme together with other prescribed information; and
It may be prescribed that, in respect of certain programmes, upon expiration of such visa such foreigner may not qualify for a status until he or she has complied with the requirement of a prescribed period of physical presence in his or her foreign country or of domicile outside the Republic; or
An applicant under the age 25 years has received an offer to conduct work for a period no longer than one year, provided that:
The prospective employer certifies that the position exists, and has committed himself or herself to:
pay such foreigner remuneration which complies with applicable legal requirements;
provide for the welfare and the needs of such foreigner while in the Republic under the aforesaid visa; and
report to the Director-General the failure of the foreigner to comply with the terms of his or her visa or to depart when so required;
Such foreigner may not conduct work other than work for which the visa is issued;
Such foreigner may not qualify for a permanent residence permit within two years after the expiry of the exchange visa, which requirement may be waived by the Director-General in extraordinary circumstances;
No visa may be granted under this section if the offer to conduct work pertains to an undesirable work as published by the Minister from time to time in the Government Gazette, after consultation with the Minister responsible for trade and industry.
Such foreigner shall reframe for a period of one (1) year, from making any visa application to return to the republic.
Retired Person’s Visa
A Retired person visa may be issued for a period exceeding three months to a foreigner who intends to retire in the Republic, provided that the foreigner provides proof that such foreigner has:
A prescribed minimum payment per month of R37 000;
A minimum prescribed net worth of R37 000.
In terms of pension, annuity or a retirement account from your country of origin, the respective proof must be provided from those institutes of such monetary contributions / value.
The spouse and dependent children accompanying the holder of a retired person visa may be issued with an appropriate visa issued in terms of this Act.
The Director-General may authorize the holder of a retired person’s visa to conduct work under terms and conditions as the Department may deem fit to determine under the circumstances.
A retired person’s visa may:
Allow its holder to sojourn in the Republic on a seasonal or continuous basis; and
Not exceed a 4 year period, at the expiry of which it may be renewed one or more times, subject to subsection (1).
Alternatively, legislation makes provision if you have a prescribed net worth of 12 Million ZAR, shall proceed to apply for a Permanent residence permit. On approval of the application, an amount of R120 000 is paid to the Director-General.