South African visa applications: 12 Facts you ought to know

Where is the best place to learn about a topic? It’s straight from the horse’s mouth, as the saying goes.

That’s why we’ve asked some of our immigration experts to share their need-to-know facts about South African visa applications with us.

We’re also sharing five bonus facts at the end of the article!

General advice:

It’s always best to plan a timeline for your submission so that you can fit in your medical, radiological and police clearance certificates, as these are date sensitive documents. Furthermore, keep in mind that South African immigration law is subject to change at any time without notice, so aim to avoid unnecessary delays that might lead to your application being affected.

Rosemary Ani; Senior Immigration Administrator

It’s important to hold onto your expired passports for future visa submissions as well as your PR application. This will help show how long you have been in SA for.

Flonique Ashbury; Corporate Relationship Manager

Spousal visas:

When applying for a visa under the spousal category, you can submit your visa application inside of South Africa if you’re in the country on a visitor’s visa. You can also endorse your spousal or life partner visa for work or business activity in South Africa. You can’t endorse any other relatives’ visas.

Giulia Crozier; Senior Immigration Consultant

Is marriage on the cards for you and your South African partner? Then you can explore the possibility of applying for a spousal visa.

That’s because you can get married today and apply for a temporary spousal visa the next day. There is not set amount of time that you need to be married for unless you’re applying for permanent residence for which you must be married to a South African for 5 years or longer.

I can confirm that an official marriage certificate trumps any evidence needed for a life partner visa!

Jaime Catala; Senior Immigration Consultant

Study visas for children:

You must apply for a study visa for any of your children that are of school-going age, which is 6 years old in South Africa.

If your child is on an accompanying child visa, you must change to a study for them when they turn six. You can apply for a study visa within South Africa.

Your child will no longer need a study visa once he or she is a permanent resident.

Sumaya Goliath; Corporate Relationship Manager

Critical Skills visas:

Home Affairs only accepts fixed term employment contracts for critical skills visa applications. The employment contract must match the application requirements, in other words you must have a temporary contract for temporary residence and a permanent contract for permanent residence.

Flonique Ashbury; Corporate Relationship Manager

Always take into consideration that a SAQA certificate is required for a critical skills work visa application, including for qualifications obtained from abroad. SAQA evaluations take months, so it will affect your immigration timeline.

Kim Koopman; Immigration Administrator

Retired visas:

You must be able to prove a monthly income of R37,000 when applying for a retired visa. This income must be your net income, not your gross income. We’ll look at the amount received in your bank account after deductions.

Furthermore, the R37,000 must be passive income. For example, pension, state pension, annuities, dividends, and rental income or interest.

Devon Spannenberg; Senior Immigration Consultant

Business visas:

It all ‘starts with a plan’ for the business visa. That’s why we’ll consider these four categories during your eligibility assessment:

  • The investment amount: You must invest at least R5 million, but you could also apply for a waiver
  • Job creation: This is one the most important parts of your business plan!
  • The feasibility of your business: We’ll work with you on this
  • National interest and footprint: In other words, we’ll look at whether your business is going to benefit South Africa

Vincent van der Waal; Senior Immigration Consultant

And here are 5 bonus facts, as promised:

  1. You don’t need an employment contract for a short-term 11.2 work visa, but you must include detailed reason of why you’re coming to South Africa and what you’ll do while in the country.
  2. Permanent residence applications under the critical skills visa category must include MIE verification of your employment history. It’s good to also include reference letters from previous employers with your application to demonstrate your experience.
  3. It is possible to renew a critical skills work visa and all other work-related visas within South Africa, except for intra-company transfer work visas after its 4-year validity.
  4. When applying for a medical visa, it is important to ensure that your doctor’s practice number is on the medical certificate to show that they are a registered doctor.
  5. When submitting your visa application in South Africa, you don’t need to request a South African police clearance from SAPS as this is done internally at the VFS centre via a biometric system on the day of submission.

Any questions? Ask us!

Our team of immigration expert are always available to answer your questions about South African visa applications. You can reach us at +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or via email at

Alternatively, get us to call you. It’s as simple as requesting a call back online. Once we have your details, one of our immigration consultants will contact you within 24 hours!