The South African Critical Skills Work Visa: 8 Facts Worth Knowing

south african critical skills work vVisa

Do you want to settle in South Africa? Are you a skilled and experienced worker? Then the South African critical skills work visa could be your best route to SA!

This work visa is based on a list of scarce skills in South Africa. Some of the occupations on the list are engineers, scientists, IT experts, and STEM school teachers.

1. Your occupation must appear on the South African critical skills list

The South African critical skills list enable foreign nationals to work in South Africa in 101 occupations.

These occupations are in areas with scarce, critical, and special skills in industries that help grow and sustain South Africa’s economy but are short in South African labour.

Each occupation is assigned a specific NQF code, and each position is clearly defined. That means occupational requirements are not open to interpretation, making the job of Home Affairs and immigration consultants easier.

What occupations are on the critical skills list?

Home Affairs released South Africa’s first critical skills list back in 2014 but has since then released  a new and updated critical skills list on 2 February 2022. This list is the one that includes 101 occupations.

Some of the occupations on the 2022 critical skills list are:

  • Policy and Planning Manager
  • Quality Systems Manager
  • Research and Development Manager
  • Chemist
  • Geologist
  • Actuary
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Nurse Educator
  • FET Phase School Teacher (Grade 10 – 12) – Only for STEM subjects
  • Senior Phase School Teacher (Grade 8 – 9) – Only for STEM subjects
  • External Auditor
  • Business Development Officer
  • ICT Systems Analyst
  • Software Developer
  • Developer Programmer
  • Economist
  • Town Planning Technician
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Millwright

This is not the complete list of critical skills. You can speak with one of our consultants to find out if your occupation is on the list.

2. You must have a job offer

With the release of the 2022 critical skills list, Home Affairs changed the regulations around job offers for critical skills work visa applications.

In the past, you didn’t need a job offer at the time of applying for a critical skills work visa.

Instead, you received a ‘job seeker’ visa if your application was successful. This visa gave you 12 months to secure a job offer. Once you had one, you finalised your critical skills work visa.

Unfortunately, Home Affairs decided to change this.

The regulations were amended, and anyone applying for a critical skills work visa based on the 2022 critical skills list must have a job offer at the time of applying for their visa.

That means the job comes first; then the work visa application.

3. You must demonstrate to Home Affairs that you have the right qualifications and experience

You must prove that you have the necessary qualifications and experience to work in the occupation under which you’re applying for your visa.

The first step is getting a SAQA evaluation of your foreign qualifications. The second step is registration with the relevant professional body. You can’t apply for registration without a SAQA evaluation!

You’ll also need a letter or assessment or recommendation from the professional body.

Furthermore, you’ll have to demonstrate proof of post-qualification experience. You can do this through your CV, as well as testimonials or reference letters, or a combination of both.

4. Your employer doesn’t have any obligations

Your prospective employer does not need to advertise for the position, nor do they need to seek approval from the Department of Labour to employ a foreign national, as with the general work visa.

5. Your visa will be employer-specific

South Africa’s critical skills work visas are employer-specific. That means you can only work for the employer indicated on your visa. To change employers, you’ll have to apply for a change of conditions.

6. Your spouse, life partner, or dependent children can also move to South Africa

South Africa’s Immigration Act makes it possible for the families of work visa holders to also move to SA through accompanying visas.

Unfortunately, your significant other won’t be allowed to work, study or start a business while living in South Africa. South Africa’s accompanying visas only allow spouses and life partners to reside in SA.

If your husband, wife, or life partner also wants to work, study or start a business, they’ll have to apply for a visa that allows them to do so.

7. Your critical skills work visa grants you temporary residency

When you apply for a South African critical skills work visa, you’ll get temporary residency if your application is successful. Home Affairs typically grants critical skills work visas for five years at a time.

8. You can apply for permanent residency with five years’ work experience

You’ll be eligible to apply for PR if you’re able to demonstrate five years of work experience in your specialist area. This experience doesn’t have to be from working in South Africa. Your five years of experience can also be from working overseas.

Your immediate family – spouse, life partner, and dependent children – will also be able to apply for PR based on your visa status.

Find out if the South African critical skills work visa is best for you

At Intergate Immigration, we can assess you against the critical skills work visa’s requirements.

Following the assessment, our consultants advise on the way forward or recommend alternative visas.

If your assessment’s outcome is positive, and you choose us as your immigration agent, our team help compile and submit your critical skills work visa application.

To get started, email your CV to or give us a call at +27 (0) 424 2460. Our team looks forward to hearing from you!