FAQs: Work Visa Requirements for South Africa

work visa requirements south africa


Many foreigners wish to live and work in South Africa each year. While some want to come here on a temporary basis, others want to make the move a permanent arrangement.

No matter how long one decides to stay, we have noticed that many foreigners have the same questions around 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.

What are the visas that allows a person to work in South Africa?

South Africa has a number of visas that allow a foreign national to work in South Africa, each with its own set of requirements. Below we provide insight into the South African work visas and their requirements.

Three main work visas

There are three visas specifically for the purpose of working in South Africa. These visas are the following:

Other visas that allow a foreign national to work in South Africa

Apart from the three main work visas, there are also four other visas which also allow for work under certain conditions:

  • Spousal or Life Partner Visa – A work endorsement can be added into the respective visa if there is a job offer. Employers would not need to advertise the position or prove why a SA local has not been chosen. This is one of the benefits to the spousal and life partner visa category.
  • Work Exchange Visa – This is when there is an exchange program between a South African and foreign learning institution. Alternatively, an applicant under the age of 25 years who has a job offer and wants to get work experience in South Africa, may apply.
  • Short term work visa – This is known as the Section 11(2) visa. It’s a visitors visa with authorisation to conduct short term work assignments in South Africa for a period of 90 days. This can be extended for a further 90 days within South Africa if there is sufficient motivation. Please note that this is issued for a maximum of 180 days in an annual cycle.
  • Study visa – Allows for 20 hours part time work for those studying in higher education.

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 visa is based on the fact that you have a position in a South African branch, affiliate or subsidiary of a multi-national company and will be transferred from foreign entity.

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

No, you may not. The South African immigration law stipulates that foreign nationals must be in possession of an approved visa that allows for work before being able to take up employment.

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 allows for 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 foreign qualifications, comparing them to the South African equivalent.

What is ‘professional body registration’?

When applying for a critical skills work visa, one of the requirements is proof of registration with a professional body or council that is recognised by SAQA.

There are different professional bodies for the various occupations outlined on the critical skills list. Time frames and membership costs vary from one professional body to another.

How long does it take to get a work visa in South Africa?

The time frames differ significantly from one work visa to the other. For critical skills particularly, one also needs to factor in the turnaround times for the professional body registration.

Once you have had a consultation with one of our immigration specialists and established your best option, we will map out the approximate timeline for you step-by-step so you can plan accordingly.

How much does a work permit cost in South Africa?

Again, this varies depending on the type of work visa you qualify for in South Africa.

Once your eligibility has been assessed by one of our experts, we can provide a full quotation. This will include our facilitation fees as well as the external fees.

Where must I submit my application?

In most cases, submission would need to be done at the SA Mission abroad. Either in your country of origin or the country where you hold residence. Depending on the country, this could be the SA Embassy or the VFS Global application centre.

Renewals, however,  can be done from within South Africa at the VFS Global application centres.

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.

How do I know if I qualify for a work visa in South Africa?

Do not worry, Intergate is here to help! The best thing to do is to contact us for a free immigration assessment.
An immigration consultant will get in touch with you and arrange for a full consultation. We will get to know you better and assess your options for a work visa to South Africa.

Your CV will be requested as part of the assessment process.  This will give your consultant a better of idea of your educational level and experience.

Contact us for your free consultation!

If you have other questions on visa requirements for South Africa, be it work related or not, feel free to get in touch.

To speak to one of our consultants, you can call +27 (0) 21 424 2460. Alternatively, request a free call back for us to contact you instead.

We look forward to assisting you!