‘Critical skills’ graduates have a quicker route to SA permanent residency

Are you a foreign national studying in South Africa? Keen to live in South Africa permanently after completing your studies?

You stand a good chance of doing so if you’re studying in a critical skills area!

The Department of Home Affairs allows students in critical skills areas to apply for permanent residency immediately after completing their studies, with many of the usual requirements set aside.

Continue reading to find out more.

Your course must be at a degree level or higher

The Department of Home Affairs has stipulated that students in critical skills studies must have a qualification at a degree level or higher. In other words, one of the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Honours degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctorate

Your qualification must be in a critical skills area

There are 12 areas of education on South Africa’s critical skills list. These areas cover industries where South Africa doesn’t have enough local talent to fill the gaps in the job market.

The areas migrants apply under most commonly are ICT, Engineering, Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, and Life and Earth Sciences. Some of the occupations under these areas are:

  • Solutions Architects
  • Integrated Developers
  • Chemical Engineers
  • Civil Engineers
  • Mining Engineers
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
  • Public Health Physicians
  • Biological Scientists
  • Aquatic Scientists
  • Engineering Geologists

You can view the latest critical skills list here. Also, read our article on the 2019 draft critical skills list. This list was supposed to come into effect in February, but that still hasn’t happened at the time of writing (July 2019).

No need for professional body registrations

The Department of Home Affairs has waived the need for eligible students to submit a certificate from a Professional Body, Council or Board recognised by SAQA. Getting these certificates often take up to a year! So, this is a huge advantage you’ll have over other critical skills applicants.

You will, however, still have to meet all the other requirements, such as submitting police clearance certificates and undergoing certain medical tests.

You don’t have to apply for temporary residency first

To apply for permanent residency under the critical skills category, applicants must have 5 years’ relevant post-qualification experience. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has however waived this requirement for graduates in critical skills areas.

The great thing about permanent residency is that you enjoy most of the rights and privileges that South African citizens do. This includes being able to change employers freely, which is not possible on temporary residency without lodging a new visa application.

Please note: To stay in South Africa while your permanent residency application is with the DHA, you must continue to hold a valid temporary visa.

Quick turnaround time (compared to other permanent residency applications)

The DHA has marked permanent residency applications from students in critical skills areas as priority cases. This changes the turnaround time from well over 24 months, which is the case for most permanent residency applications, to roughly a year. While this is still not a waiting time that most people will consider short, it is much shorter than normal.

Your family can join you in South Africa

Spouses, life partners, and dependent children can apply for permanent residency at the same time as the main applicant.

It’s important to note that permanent residency applications for family members take 2 to 3 years to reach an outcome. However, once PR is issued, your family members will have the same rights as any other PR holder. This means your spouse or life partner will be free to work, study or set up a business in South Africa.

Want to find out if you qualify to apply for South African permanent residency?

If you’re not familiar with the South African critical skills list, let one of our agents check whether or not the degree you’re studying meets the requirements.

Should you be eligible for a permanent residency application, our agents will be able to explain the way forward in detail to you.

You can contact us on either +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or +27 (0) 11 234 4275 for a chat. Or why not save your airtime and get us to call you? It’s as easy as asking for a call back on our website.

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