Work visas for South Africa

Work visas in South Africa
Updated 2022-11-06 11:43

Any foreigner wishing to work in South Africa must have a work permit. It is not possible to switch to a work permit from a tourist visa on South African soil. However, the renewal of a work permit or the application for a permanent residence permit can be done in South Africa.

Situations requiring a work permit in South Africa

Temporary employment in South Africa.

Setting up a company in South Africa.

Transfer of an employee from a foreign company to its South African subsidiary.

Temporary employment as a consultant to the government under intergovernmental agreements

Visiting a company in South Africa in which you have more than a 25% controlling interest

Acquisition of fixed assets in South Africa for speculative or rental purposes.

Producing feature films, documentaries or commercials.

Working in a religious institution in South Africa (priest or religious worker).

List of documents required for all work permits in South Africa

For all types of work permits, you will be required to provide the following documents:

  • Application form completed and signed by the applicant.
  • Passport valid for at least 30 days after payment of the prescribed fee and with 2 contiguous blank pages.
  • Proof of payment of the application fee.
  • Full birth certificate.
  • Medical and radiological examination reports.
  • Criminal record or police certificate from each country where the applicant has resided for 12 months or more since the age of 18.

Treaty visa in South Africa

This visa allows foreigners to come to South Africa to participate in cooperation programs between South Africa and their respective countries. The cooperation activities can be political, cultural, economic or social and paid in South Africa.

The visa is issued for the duration of the program and can be renewed.

Additional documents to be provided:

  • Document indicating the nature of the program and its duration.
  • Document indicating the activities carried out during the program.
  • Return ticket or cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.
  • The visa is issued for the duration of the program and can be renewed. Programs can be paid for in South Africa.

General work permit in South Africa

This is the most common work visa in South Africa. The hiring company must prove that it has not found a South African employee with the skills and experience required for the position and must have advertised in the job section of a national newspaper at least three months prior to hiring an expatriate.

The prospective candidate must demonstrate that they have the skills, qualifications and experience for the position. The qualifications must be translated by a sworn translator and certified as true to the original documents and are verified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

The prospective candidate must also obtain a Certificate from the Department of Labour stating that the salary and benefits are equivalent to those of a South African employee in a similar position and that, despite a search, the employer has not found a South African citizen or permanent resident suitable for the position.

The applicant must sign an employment contract stipulating all the conditions of employment and attach it to the visa application file that they will submit to the South African Consulate or Embassy in their home country.

The visa is issued for the duration of the contract or for a maximum period of 5 years.

Additional documents for processing:

  • Proof that qualifications have been approved by SAQA.
  • Certificate from the Ministry of Labor.
  • Proof of publication of the job offer in an official newspaper.
  • Employment contract.
  • Proof of financial means to cover living expenses until the first salary is paid (bank statements, available cash).
  • Written commitment from the employer to cover the costs of the applicant's deportation and that of his/her dependent family members, if necessary.
  • A letter from the employer agreeing to notify the Ministry of Labor if the employee is no longer employed by the employer or is employed in a different position.
  • All required documents for dependents.

Critical skills work permit for South Africa

The Critical Skills Work Permit is a work permit granted to individuals with skills and qualifications considered essential for South Africa.

A list of occupations requiring essential skills is published in the Government Gazette. The first list dating from 2014, has just been updated, and many skills are now excluded from the list that appears in the Government Gazette of 02 February 2022.

People who already hold a Critical Skills Visa and need to renew it must refer to the new list of skills since February 02.

Until February 2022, it was not necessary to have an employment contract to obtain a Critical Skills Visa. The Ministry of Interior issued it for a period of one year, during which the visa holder had to find a job, and the validity of the visa was extended for four years. Since February 2022, it has been necessary to have a job offer to apply for a Critical Skills Visa. The visa will be issued for the duration of the contract and cannot exceed five years.

Additional documents for the processing of the file:

  • Work contract
  • Letter from current employer dated within six months.
  • Proof of at least five years of post-qualification experience.
  • Letter of recommendation from previous employers.
  • Proof of SAQA-assessed qualifications.
  • Complete resume.
  • Letter of motivation stating that the applicant's qualifications will add value to the field in which they will work.

Intra-company work transfer permit in South Africa

This visa is for companies that decide to transfer an employee from an overseas branch to a South African subsidiary. The employee must apply for an intra-company transfer work visa. The applicant must have worked for at least six months in the company before being able to transfer to South Africa.

The intra-company transfer work visa is for a maximum of 4 years and cannot be renewed or extended.

Additional documents for the processing of the application:

  • Proof of financial means to cover living expenses up to the first salary.
  • A cash deposit equivalent to a return ticket.
  • Employment contract with the company abroad.
  • Letter from the overseas employer confirming that the employee is being transferred to a South African subsidiary.
  • Letter from the South African company confirming the transfer and specifying the employee's occupation and position and the duration of the transfer.
  • A signed statement from the employer that the employee will leave South Africa at the end of the 4 year period, that the passport is valid for that period and that the applicant will only be employed in the capacity stated in the application.
  • All required documents for dependents.

A written undertaking from the employer agreeing to bear the costs of repatriation of the applicant and their dependents, if necessary.

A letter in which the employer agrees to inform the Ministry of Labor if the employee is no longer employed by the employer or is employed in a different position.

If the employee is seconded to a South African subsidiary for a specific period but is paid by the parent company, a business visa should be applied for.

Business visa for South Africa

Foreigners who plan to invest in the South African economy by starting a business or investing in an existing business in the country must apply for a business visa. As an applicant, the financial contribution will be determined by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Additional documents for processing the application:

  • Certificate issued by a chartered accountant registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants proving that you have the required capital contribution
  • The applicant undertakes that at least 60% of the total workforce employed in operations will be South African citizens or permanent residents, permanently employed in various positions.
  • The applicant undertakes to register with the South African Revenue Service, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Workers' Compensation Fund and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.
  • Letter of recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry attesting to the feasibility of the enterprise and its contribution to the national interest of the Republic.

If investing in an existing business as a partner, the investor will need to provide proof of investment and partnership agreement, financial statements for the previous financial year and a certificate from the Department of Labor confirming that 60% of the staff employed are South Africans or permanent residents.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.