What are the requirements for South African work visas?

requirements for south african work visas

Are you trying to make sense of the requirements for South African work visas but finding it overwhelming? You’re not alone. That’s why we’re going to share each work visa’s requirements so that you don’t pin your hopes and dreams (and money) on a visa for which you don’t qualify.

1. Critical skills work visa

The critical skills work visa is for highly skilled individuals. To apply for this visa:

  • Your occupation must appear on the critical skills list. This is a list of occupations in need of overseas talent to fill labour gaps.

You can apply for a critical skills work visa with or without a job offer. However, if you don’t have a job offer at the time of your application, you’ll have to find a job within 12 months once you get an outcome on your visa application.

You may also have to register with a professional body, council or board, depending on your occupation.

2. General work visa

The general work visa enables South African employers to employ foreigners but employers must prove that they could not find a South African to fill the advertised role. This requirement is in place to ensure that South Africans are prioritized by employers.

For this reason, the requirements of the general work visa are as follows:

  • You must have a formal job offer from the South African employer, including your remuneration, leave entitlement, work hours, and termination period.
  • The South African employer must provide proof of the fact that it advertised the role for which you applied and that it couldn’t find a South African to fill the position.

The Department of Home Affairs also wants to see your SAQA registration and certificate as confirmation of your qualification. SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority and it oversees various functions including the registration of qualifications.

3. Intra-company transfer work visa

The intra-company transfer work visa, or ICT work visa, enables companies abroad to send staff to a South African branch, subsidiary or affiliate.

The overseas employer must demonstrate that:

  • The employee have been in their employment for more than 6 months.
  • Confirmation that the applicant shall be transferred to a branch, subsidiary or an affiliate of that company in South Africa.
  • That the employee will not be staying in South African more than 4 years.

The South African company must confirm:

  • Acceptance of the transfer of the employee to them in their capacity as a branch, subsidiary or an affiliate of the company abroad.
  • That the employee will only be employed in the specific occupation and capacity for which the intra-company transfer work visa was granted.
  • That the foreign employee will at all times comply with the provisions of the Act and conditions of their visa.
  • That they undertake to immediately notify the Director-General if the employee does not comply with the provisions of the act or conditions attached to the visa.
  • Any potential deportation costs that maybe associated to the employee and his or her dependent family members, will be born by the company should it become necessary.
  • That the employee holding the intra-company transfer work visa will have at all times a valid passport for the duration of his or her employment.
  • That an appropriate plan is in place for the transfer of skills from the visa holder to a South African employee.

You must:

  • Provide proof of financial means to cover living expenses until you receive a salary in the form of:
    • a bank statement;
    • cash available, or
    • travellers’ cheques.
  • Prove that you’re in good health.
  • Provide police clearance certificates.

4. Endorsements on spousal and life partner visas

The spouses and life partners of South Africans are allowed to work in South Africa with an endorsement on their visa. This is for temporary residents as permanent residents can work, study or run a business in South Africa with no restrictions.

To activate the endorsement, you must:

  • have a formal job offer from a South African employer.

Nothing else is required of you.

5. Exchange visa

The South African exchange visa enables foreign nationals under the age of 25 to work in South Africa. The conditions are that the visa holder only works for the company noted on the visa and for only a year.

The main requirements of the exchange visa rests with the South African employer. The employer who wishes to hire the foreign national must

  • Certify that the position exists and commit to:
    • Remunerating the visa holder in line with the legal requirements
    • Seeing to the visa holder’s welfare and needs while they’re in South Africa on their exchange visa
    • Reporting any failure on the visa holder’s part to comply with the conditions of their visa to the Department of Home Affairs
    • Ensure that the visa holder only do work that is allowed by the visa

6. Corporate workers visa

South African employers who want to employ a group of foreign nationals for a project can apply for a corporate workers permit. The employer can then issue corporate workers certificates to the foreign national employees to apply for individual corporate workers visas.

The main requirements for your visa application are then:

  • The corporate workers certificate as issued under the corporate workers permit
  • A formal employment contract
  • Proof of your qualifications
  • Proof of registration with the a professional body, if applicable

7. Short-term work visa

The short-term work visa, or the Section 11(2) visa, lets you come to South Africa for short-term work activities or business visits, such as conferences, launches, meetings, seminars, training, installations, etc.

To apply, you’d have to meet South Africa’s visitor visa requirements and the host organisation in South Africa must supply a letter of invitation that’s extended to you.

Please note: You cannot hold a Section 11(2) visa for more than 180 days in a calendar year.

The most important requirement?

In our opinion, it is crucial to do an eligibility assessment. When you do an eligibility assessment that asks the right questions, you’ll know for sure for which work visa you qualify. You may also discover a visa route you didn’t even consider!