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Visas for South Africa

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What are the different types of visas available for South Africa? Which one suits you best? Find out in this article.

If you are planning to move to South Africa, regardless of the duration of your stay, you are probably wondering whether you need a visa. Nationals of some countries are exempted from the visa requirement when making a short stay in the country. However, the visa becomes compulsory in the case of a long or permanent stay. Make sure to inquire about relating conditions and formalities beforehand.

 Important:

You have to apply for the visa from your home country before traveling to South Africa. In general, short stay visas are valid for a maximum of 90 days.

Conditions

You will have to apply for a visa according to the purpose of your stay in the country: tourism, family visit, business, family reunification, study, volunteering, research, conference, cultural or artistic mission, medical treatment, participation in a sports event, etc.

In all cases, you are required to produce the following:

  • your passport (valid for at least 30 days following your scheduled return date)
  • at least one blank page on your passport
  • a duly filled BI-84 form (available at the South African diplomatic representative office in your home country)
  • a medical certificate in case you have transited from a South American or African country where yellow fever is present
  • supporting documents as to the purpose and duration of your stay in the country
  • two recent passport-type identity photos
  • your return ticket.

If you are traveling to South Africa with a child, other documents also have to be produced, namely the child's birth certificate, proof of your legal responsibility to the child and an exit from the territory permit in the case of an unaccompanied minor.

Fees

Visas fees generally vary from one country to another. However, you must also prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in South Africa. A recent bank statement or your host's payslip may be produced. You may as be in possession of a health insurance, cash or a bank card.

Formalities

Below is a list of documents to be provided when applying for each type of visa.

Business visa (setting up a business)

When applying for a business visa, you have to specify the amount of capital you are planning to invest. Moreover, the following documents have to be produced:

  • a duly filled and signed BI-1738 form
  • a certificate issued by an accredited accountant, recognized by the South African Institute of Certified Accountants. The certificate must specify the amount of capital you intend to invest in South Africa and another amount to be injected as a capital contribution. These amounts have been determined by the Department of Trade and Industry. The document also confirms that you agree to hire at least 60% of South African nationals in the company and to register with all government regulating organizations in South Africa.

Other conditions may also apply. Find more information in the article Setting up a business in South Africa.

General work visa

To apply for a general work visa, you have to produce:

  • a duly filled and signed application form
  • a vaccination certificate and medical reports
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself until you receive your first salary
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in countries where you have lived for at least 12 months since you reached the age of 18
  • a job offer or employment contract
  • a letter issued by your employer stating that he will take care of any repatriation formalities for you and your family members
  • a certificate issued by the Department of Labor
  • your certificates and qualifications evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and translated by a an accredited translator in a language recognized by the South African Constitution
  • all documents relating to the employer and his company (business registration certificate, etc)
  • all documents regarding your family members (spouse and children) if they are accompanying you.

 Good to know:

The ordinary work visa is valid for either the contract's duration or for five years.

Critical skills visa

To apply for a critical skills visa, you will need:

  • a duly filled and signed application form
  • a vaccination certificate and medical reports
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself until you receive your first salary
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in countries where you have lived for at least 12 months since you reached the age of 18
  • a job offer or employment contract
  • proof of application for a registration certificate of registration with the accredited professional body recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • proof of evaluation of your qualifications by the SAQA translated by a accredited translator into one of the country's official languages. 


You will also have to produce an employment contract within 12 months following the issue of the visa to prove that you qualify for the position offered.


Intra-company transfer work visa

To apply for an 
intra-company transfer work visa, you will have to produce:

  • a duly filled and signed application form
  • a vaccination certificate and medical reports
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself until you receive your first salary
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in countries where you have lived for at least 12 months since you reached the age of 18
  • a cash deposit which is equivalent to repatriation fees
  • an employment contract established with the foreign company
  • a letter issued by your employer justifying your transfer
  • a letter issued by the South African branch confirming your transfer from the affiliated company abroad. Note that this letter must include your position as well as the duration of your contract (not exceeding four years).

Corporate visas

In the case of a corporate visa, you will require:

  • a duly filled and signed application form
  • a statement justifying the need for foreign manpower and the number of persons to be hired
  • a certificate issued by the Department of Labor
  • proof of registration with South African tax and social authorities
  • proof that at least 60% of the hired staff are South African nationals and permanent residents occupying various positions
  • a statement justifying that all foreign employees have valid passports and will be occupying the specified positions
  • a cash deposit on a blocked bank account providing for the salary of foreign workers.

Note that the corporate visa is valid for a maximum of three years.

Student visa

When requesting a student visa, you will need the following:

  • a duly filled and signed BI-1738 form
  • proof of health insurance
  • a cash deposit providing for your return ticket
  • medical reports
  • your birth certificate
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself throughout your stay in the country
  • document relating to your legal guardian in South Africa (in the case of less than 18 years old students)
  • authorization from your parents or legal guardian to study in South Africa
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in each country where you have resided for more than 12 months after reaching the age of 18.

Exchange visa

To apply for an exchange visa, you will require:

  • a statement of support issued by your hosts in South Africa
  • proof of health insurance
  • a cash deposit providing for your return ticket
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the country
  • medical reports
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in all countries where you have resided after you turned 18
  • a letter issued by the exchange program organizer in your home country justifying the exchange program and your registration to the program
  • a confirmation letter issued by the Department of Education or any other relevant higher education institution in South Africa.

Note that the exchange visa is valid for a year and is not renewable.

Retired person's visa

To apply for a retired person's visa, you will require:

  • proof of health insurance
  • medical reports
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in all countries where you have resided after you turned 18
  • documents relating to your spouse and children if they are accompanying you.

To be eligible to this visa, you must receive a monthly pension of R 37,000. Note that this amount may be reviewed by the relevant ministry.

Relative's visa

In the case of the relative's visa, you will need the following:

  • a cash deposit providing for the return ticket of each family member
  • documents justifying the purpose and duration of stay
  • proof of family ties with the resident in South Africa (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • an extract of a clean criminal record issued in all countries where you have resided after you turned 18
  • medical reports
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself throughout your stay in the country (a minimum of R 8,500 per person).

 Good to know:

Spouses and children of permanent residents, just like South African nationals, are exempted from visa fees, the cash deposit and the sufficient funds requirement. Moreover, pregnant women and less than 12 years old children do not have to undergo medical checkups.

Exemptions

Nationals of some countries are exempted from the visa requirement when making a less than 90 days stay or a diplomatic stay in the country. They can simply produce their passport which, however, has to be valid for at least 30 days following their scheduled return date. Find more information on the Government of South Africa website (provided in the useful links below).

 Useful links:

Government of South Africa – General information about visas www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services
Government of South Africa – Visa exemptions www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas

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