FAQs: Work Visa Requirements for South Africa

south africa visa requirementsThousands of foreigners come to live and work in South Africa each year. Some make it a temporary arrangement, while others stay for longer.

For how ever long they decide to stay, we have noticed that most foreigners have the same questions around their work visa requirements for South Africa.

Below are some of the most common questions. You might find them helpful if you are considering immigrating to South Africa to work here.

May I start working in South Africa before receiving my work visa?

No, you may not. South African immigration law stipulates that foreign nationals must be in possession of an approved work visa before looking for or taking up employment.

Do I need a job offer in order to apply for a work visa?

This would depend on the visa you have or are applying for:

  • The requirements for a general work visa for South Africa stipulate that you must have a job offer before applying for the visa.
  • You can apply for a critical skills visa without having a job offer in place. Once you have the visa, however, you must find suitable employment within 12 months.

The intra-company transfer and individual corporate workers visa are a little different in nature:

  • The intra-company transfer visa is based on the fact that you have a position in a South African branch, affiliate or subsidiary of a multi-national company.
  • With individual corporate workers visas, the corporate already identified a need for foreign employees. Despite this, the corporate must be able to prove that no South African could be found to fill the position during the application. Not being able to do so, could affect your application negatively.

What are the main criteria for South African work visas?

Each type of South African work visa carries its own set of criteria. The available work visas are:

Please see each visa type for more information.

Can I apply for permanent residency with a South African work visa?

In order to be eligible for permanent residency, you must have maintained temporary residency for a 5 year period of time. This means that you were employed in an appropriate job in South Africa for 5 years.

Those applying for critical skills work visas could however very well be eligible for permanent residency right away, provided they have 5 years experience in their occupation.

Please note that the intra-company transfer visa is not considered within the 5-year rule. The Department of Home Affairs views the intra-company transfer visa as a temporary immigration solution.

My foreign employer wants me to work in their South African office. Do I need a South African work visa even though I am getting paid abroad?

Yes, you do. The visa you’ll need is called an intra-company transfer work visa. This visa is required to work for a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of an international company in South Africa.

What is SAQA for South African work visa purposes?

If you are applying for a general work or critical skills visa, a SAQA document must accompany your application. SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority. This is a South African organisation that evaluates the foreigner’s qualifications, comparing them to the South African equivalent.

Let us know if you have other questions

If you have other question on visa requirements for South Africa, be it work related or not, feel free to get in touch. Our consultants have processed more than 9 000 visa and visa related queries since Intergate’s inception in 2005.

To speak to one of our consultants in Cape Town, you can call +27 (0) 21 424 2460. For a consultant in Johannesburg, call +27 (0) 11 234 4275. Alternatively, request a free call back for us to contact you instead. Once we’ve received your details, one of our consultants will be on the phone within 24 hours.