7 Myths about South African work visas busted!

7 Myths about South African work visas busted!


There are many misconceptions about South African work visas that never seem to go away.

Unfortunately, buying into the misinformation could set you up for failure right from the start.

That’s why we’ve decided to clear up the seven biggest myths and give you the facts.

Let’s start with the biggest one of all:

Myth: I am guaranteed to get a work visa if I have a job offer in South Africa.

Truth: A job offer on its own is not enough to guarantee a work visa. You must meet the requirements of the visa you want to apply for. Only then would you be able to start your application.

Myth: I can start working for an employer as soon as my visa application has been submitted.

Truth: No, you must have your visa approved and in hand before you can start a job. Until such time, you cannot legally work for an employer.

Myth: I can work for any employer.

Truth: No, you cannot. A general work visa is employer specific. If you want to change employers, you must do a change of conditions. In other words, you must submit paperwork to the Department of Home Affairs to change the employer on your visa.

The same is true for a critical skills visa with a stipulated employer. When you have a critical skills visa tied to an employer, you must also apply for a change of conditions if you want to work for a new employer.

Myth: If I have a work visa, my accompanying spouse can also automatically work in South Africa.

Truth: No, your spouse may not work in South Africa. Accompanying spouses can only reside in South Africa. This means they cannot work, study or be involved in a business while living in South Africa.

Myth: I do not need a visa if I’m not getting a salary from within South Africa while in the country for work purposes.

Truth: If you are a foreigner with permanent residence outside South Africa, you will need a visa to enter South Africa for any purpose. This includes volunteer work as well as short-term work when paid by an overseas employer. The reason for your entry into South Africa will ultimately determine what type of visa you should apply for.

Myth: If I have a current work visa, the renewal is as good as guaranteed. It will be quick and easy too.

Truth: Unfortunately this is not the case. You’ll have to meet all the criteria of your visa again, which means you have to submit all the required documents – again. As such, it’s treated the same as a new application and the Department of Home Affairs take as much time as they deem necessary to process this application. As we all know, that’s never as quickly as one would hope.

Myth: If I work in South Africa for long enough on my visa I qualify for permanent residence.

Truth: This is the case for some South African work visas but not for others:

  • General work visa: You can apply for permanent residence when you have held a general work visa for more than five consecutive years, i.e. with no breaks in-between.
  • Critical skills visa: If you have gained more than 5 years of relevant, post graduate experience in your field of critical skill, you can apply for permanent residence right away. This is even if none of that experience was gained in South Africa.

Think you might have misinformation on South African work visas?

You can contact us any time you doubt information you have heard or come across on the internet. Our immigration experts are available on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or info@intergate-immigration.com.

If you’d prefer for us to call you, simply ask for a call back. You leave your details and a consultant will contact you.

We don’t want you to come to South Africa or start an application while under false impressions. And we’re sure you don’t want to either!