Critical Skills Work Visa South Africa

Critical Skills Work Visa South Africa
Critical Skills Work Visa South Africa

For many prospective immigrants to South Africa, and indeed those already here on certain work permits or visas, you may be forgiven for thinking that the new Immigration Act is all bad news.

It would seem all the media and press has been focusing on the negative aspects of the Act rather than the positives.

So for a change lets give you some positive news – the Critical skills work visa.

Read on because the critical skills work visa now presents opportunities for both new immigrants and those existing permit holders that did not exist before.

Read on to find out all about the critical skills visa. Here is a taster……

  • It allows you to get a work visa without a job offer.
  • It allows you to enter and stay in South Africa for 12 months to secure a position.
  • It is based on a well researched list of occupations that are badly needed in South Africa, increasing your changes of finding a job.
  • No restrictions in terms of the numbers in each listed occupation (everyone can apply!).
  • No Department of Labour recommendation, so quicker turnaround times.
  • Deals with the professional bodies specific to the occupation.
  • Can be a pathway to permanent residency immediately as well an immediate 5 year working visa.
  • Qualification for a critical skills visa if you qualified as a Doctoral graduate (PhD) in South Africa.
  • Less obligation on employers.

 What is a critical skills work visa?

As one might guess from its name, this work visa focuses on what is deemed to be a critical skill in South Africa. A critical skill, for the purpose of immigration, can be defined as a skill that is not easily sourced from local South African labour, in other words skills that South Africa needs to attract from the international work force.

Hows the critical skills work visa it work?

A critical skills work visa is based upon the applicants education. There is no specified time frame of experience required. There must however, please note, be acceptance from the applicable professional body.

No job required

Most people who have tried to secure a job in South Africa will tell you how much harder this is to do from abroad.

Until now it has been a catch 22 situation:

  • employers asking if you have a work visa and if not their interest wanes; and
  • you first needing a job before you can get a work visa.

GREAT NEWS – no longer do you need a job offer to apply for residency under the new Critical Skills work visa.
12 months to find employment

The only work visa’s under the old immigration regulations that one could obtain without a job offer was:

  • very restrictive and out of date in whom may qualify;
  • dictated that the holder must find a job within just 3 months;
  • Was a qualitative application and you had to convince DHA that you possessed skills against a very ‘grey’ criteria.

GREAT NEWS – successful applicants for a critical skills work visa have a full 12 months to find suitable employment.

Well researched list of occupations

The old quota list was outdated and not reflective of the critical skills needed in South Africa.

GREAT NEWS – There are 13 categories with 222 professions and the critical skills listed on it are far more reflective of South Africa’s needs than ever before. You can view the full critical skills list here but it includes:

  • Architects
  • Many management and IT roles
  • Over 30 engineering roles
  • Health professionals
  • Scientists
  • Technicians
  • Trade workers
  • Foreign language skills
  • Academics
  • Successful PhD students who studied in South Africa

No restrictions in terms of the numbers in each listed occupation.

Most countries limit the number of work visa’s they will grant in each of the critical skill occupations. This then can become a lottery – where you do indeed qualify but there are simply no visa’s left to issue.

GREAT NEWS – there is no limit to the amount of critical skills visa’s in each profession listed. Therefore if you qualify you need not worry that some allocated quota has been used up.

No Department of Labour recommendation so quicker turnaround times.

Red tape is often the issue that stands between a work visa being issued in a reasonable time period. Other work visa applications demand the involvement of the Department of Labour which certainly adds more red tape.

GREAT NEWS – no need for Letters of Recommendation from the Department of Labour so quicker processing time.

Deals with the professional bodies specific to the occupation.

Often in the past it has been the responsibility of a government department to say whether someone is suitable for a role or not. Maybe lacking specific profession expertise, decisions could be questionable and even wrong.

GREAT NEWS – the application for a critical skills visa need only prove the applicant has applied to the appropriate professional body. As the professional body they are far better equipped to make a judgement on the applicants qualifications and experience.

Can be pathway to permanent residency immediately.

Most work visas require the applicant to hold a temporary work visa for a period of time before they may apply for permanent residency. Often this period of time can not be met with the initial visa and requires the applicant to obtain a renewal in order to reach the required time period.

GREAT NEWS – Work visa’s are a temporary visa issued for 5 years at a time. This 5 years is excellent news and gives security as you can then apply for permanent residency.

MORE GREAT NEWS – the critical skills visa recognises those professional who hold the required qualification and experience. If the applicant has 5 years applicable experience in the role (from anywhere in the world) they can instantly apply for permanent residency.

EVEN MORE GREAT NEWS – for applicants not able to prove 5 years experience immediately, but say have already 3 years, they need only wait for 2 more years before applying for permanent residency.

Qualification for a critical skills visa if you qualified for a post graduate (PhD) in South Africa

South Africa attracts many international students who take advantage of the excellent standard of education in South Africa. Until now these students, upon passing, were lost to South Africa as they returned to their home countries or other destinations.

GREAT NEWS – If you are awarded you PhD in South Africa you may qualify for a critical skills visa.

Freedom to move between employers.

Work visas have traditionally in the main been tied to a specific employer. This meant the applicant was ‘stuck’ in a certain role with no ability to change jobs without applying for a new work visa.

GREAT NEWS – Critical skills work visa holders are required only once a year to report where they are working. This gives them the freedom to further their career by pursuing better opportunities. It also allows for employers to compete on a fair basis for their skills without the bias of a new work visa being required.

Less obligation on employers.

Employers do not need to participate in the initial application process to the degree they would under other work visa options.

GREAT NEWS – the critical skills visa puts the emphasise of requirement/eligibility firmly on the visa holder, making it more attractive for employers to seek their services.


As we started of by saying the new immigration act is not all doom and gloom. There may well be so ‘low points’ that need addressing but the ‘high point’ is for sure the critical skills work visa.

It serves it purpose by protecting job opportunities for South Africans, as it should, but achieves the balance of ensuring that critical skills which are not available in South Africa, can be attracted easily with minimal red tape.

For those possessing the required critical skills this work visa is an excellent option and opens up the possibility to obtain a work visa in South Africa where none existed before.

About Intergate Immigration

Over 6000 successful applications, the only ISO certified immigration company for South Africa and a recognised industry leader.

But we can all boast, the proof is in the actual delivery.

So we invite you to try us for yourself with our free and non obligatory consultation regarding your eligibility for a critical skills work visa. You can call us on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 (Cape Town) or +27 (0) 11 234 4275 (Johannesburg), email us here or even request a call back.

We also welcome visits to our offices:

Cape Town
Intergate Immigration Service (Pty) Ltd.
Graphic Centre, 2nd Floor
199 Loop Street
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa

Intergate Immigration Service (Pty) Ltd.
Block D – Second Floor, Edenburg Terraces
348 Rivonia Boulevard
Rivonia 2128, Johannesburg
South Africa