The South African Critical Skills Work Visa

south african critical skills work vVisa


Are you an engineer, scientist or IT expert? If yes, then you should consider applying for a South African Critical Skills Work Visa because South Africa wants you!

The Critical Skills Work Visa was implemented in May 2014. It’s based on a list of skills that are scarce in SA. Apart from the skills we’ve listed above, the list includes occupations such as financial investment advisors, foreign language speakers and architects to name a few.

Although this particular work visa has been around for a number years, there’s still some confusion around what it allows, its benefits and the criteria. It’s with this in mind that we have decided to clear this up for you.

Some insight into the Critical Skills Work Visa:

  1. When submitting with an offer of employment, you are likely to be issued with the full 5-year Critical Skills Work Visa. Those that submit without an offer will only get one year. Reason being, the Department of Home Affairs requires that the applicant confirms employment within 12 months.
  2. When a job offer is included into the application, the visa will be employer specific. Any changes to the employer will require a change of conditions.
  3. The spouse and dependent children of the main applicant may apply for accompanying visas. These visas will be issued in line with the expiration date of the main applicant’s visa.
  4. There are two required steps before being able to lodge the critical skills application to the authorities. The first is the SAQA evaluation of your foreign qualifications. The second is registration with the relevant professional body. Please note that SAQA is needed before you can commence with the latter.
  5. Although the critical skills gazette states that proof of submission for registration with the relevant professional body is required, in reality, the authorities wish to see the approved registration before you can apply for your Critical Skills Work Visa.

The benefits of the South African Critical Skills Work Visa include:

  • An offer of employment is not a requirement for your initial application.
  • It allows the visa holder 12 months in which to confirm employment in South Africa within the listed categories.
  • There is no limit as to how many visas may be issued per critical skills category, unlike the previous Quota Work Visa.
  • Your prospective employer does not need to advertise for the position, nor do they need to seek approval from the Department of Labour.
  • If you can demonstrate five years of experience in your specialist area, you’ll be eligible to apply for permanent residency for you and your family. This experience doesn’t have to be from working in South Africa; it can be from working overseas.
  • The Critical Skills category is based on a well researched list of occupations that are decidedly needed in South Africa. Therefore finding a job in South Africa should not be difficult.

The qualifying criteria for the Critical Skills category are:

  • In order to be eligible for a Critical Skills Work Visa, you’d need to demonstrate that you have the relevant qualifications and experience.
  • Your foreign qualification(s) would need to be evaluated by SAQA.
  • Confirmation of registration with the relevant professional body will be required. A letter of assessment or recommendation will also be required from the professional body.
  • You must be able to demonstrate proof of post qualification experience. This can be done via your CV, as well as testimonials and/or reference letters.

In summary

  1. South Africa has a skill shortage in certain professions.
  2. A job offer is not required in order to apply for the initial work visa.
  3. There’s no limit on the amount of critical skills visas that may be issued in each of the categories.
  4. Family members can accompany the visa application.
  5. It leads to permanent residency in South Africa. Not just for you, but your family as well!

Find out if you qualify for a Critical Skills Work Visa

Perhaps you have considered taking up employment in South Africa under one of the listed categories. If this is the case, then contact us for a free immigration assessment to see if you meet the requirements to apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa. All we’d need is a copy of your CV.

Give us a call on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or email us at

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Our team looks forward to hearing from you!