Types of South African visas

There are many types of South African visas – from visas for working to visas for studying.

The purpose of your stay will determine which of these visas you’ll apply for.

To help you get started, we’re taking a look at the main visa categories South Africa offers. We’ll also give you links to more detailed information one each visa.

Let’s get to it.

Work visas

There are four work visas provided for by the South African Immigration Act:

  • General work visa: You need a formal job offer to apply and your future employer must be able to prove that they could not find a suitable South African resident or citizen to fill the position.
  • Critical skills work visa: You do not need a job offer to apply for this visa, but your occupation must appear on South Africa’s critical skills list.
  • Intra-company transfer work visa: This visa is to transfer employees from an overseas company to a South African branch, affiliate or subsidiary.
  • Corporate visa: The application process starts with a corporate who wants to employ a large number of employees for an extended period of time.

More on South African work visas.

Spousal and life partner visas

Spousal and life partner visas are for husbands, wives and life partners of South African residents or permanent residents. This includes same-sex marriages or life partnerships, as these are legal in South Africa.

Those on temporary visas will be allowed to work, study or do business with an endorsement. Permanent residents are free to do any of these – no endorsements are required.

More on life partner and spousal visas.

Relatives visas

Relatives visas for immediate family members of South African residents or citizens. ‘Immediate’ family includes both first-kin and second-kin family members:

  • First-kin: Husband, wife, children, parents.
  • Second-kin: Brothers, sisters.

More on relatives visas.

Study visas

There are two categories of study visas:

  • Study visas for dependent children of school-going age.
  • Study visas for foreign students who’d like to undertake tertiary education in South Africa at a learning institution approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Also important is that it must be a full-time course, unfortunately part-time courses do not cut it.

More on study visas.

Business visas

A business visa allows you to start a business in South Africa, to buy a business in South Africa or to part-own a business in South Africa.

You’ll need to invest R5 million and commit to at least 60% of your workforce being South African residents or citizens.

More on business visas.

Retired visa

Retired visas enables you to stay in South Africa for extended periods of time. You don’t have to be a certain age when you apply, but you must be able to prove that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your visa.

More on retired visas here.

Financially independent permit

This is not a permit that’s often discussed but it could be a good option if you’d like permanent residency straight away. This of course also means that you’ll be free to work, study or start a business, as you’ll have nearly all the same rights and privileges as a South African citizen.

To qualify for a financially independent visa you must be able to show a net wealth of R12 million. On top of this, you’ll have to pay the Department of Home Affairs R120 000 should the Department approve and issue your permit.

More about the financially independent permit.

Want to further discuss the types of South African visas and find out which one is best for you?

If you’d like to discuss your visa options , we invite you to call us and have an immigration assessment done. It only takes a couple of minutes and is done free of charge. At the end of it, you’ll have clarity about your situation and know if you qualify to emigrate to South Africa.

You can book an assessment online or give us a call on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 to speak with a consultant.