Immigration to South Africa: Get the answers to your questions

immigration to south africa


Immigration is synonymous with questions – and lots of them! Some questions regarding immigration to South Africa pop up time and again. This is why we’ve decided to answer the questions you ask us the most in one place so that it’s easy to reference.

Go on – bookmark this page immediately! Then start reading…

1. How do I get a South African visa?

You must meet the requirements to submit an application. There isn’t only one set of requirements though. Each one of South Africa’s visas has its own criteria. Here we’ll discuss the main requirements, but go to our visa section for comprehensive details on South African visa criteria.

Critical skills work visa:

Your occupation and qualification must appear on South Africa’s critical skills list. This is the easier of work visas to obtain as you can apply for it for without an initial employment offer.

General work visa:

You must have a written job offer and the employer must be able to prove that they couldn’t find a South African citizen or permanent resident for the position. This is one of the more difficult visas to apply for in South Africa as your potential employer needs to go through a stringent Department of Labour process.

Intra-company transfer work visa:

This visa caters for multinational companies allowing employees to be transferred to the South African company. The South African company must be a subsidiary, branch or affiliate of the overseas company.

This visa is issued for four years and is not renewable as it is seen as a temporary secondment.  As such, it does not lead to permanent residency in South Africa.

Corporate workers permit:

This visa is for South African employers and it offers the possibility to employ great numbers of employees from abroad, all under the remit of one application. You will be able to apply for an individual corporate workers visa if the employer’s application is successful.

Spousal visa:

You must be married to a South African citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for this kind of visa. It must be a civil marriage union.

A temporary residency visa can be applied for immediately and permanent residency can be applied for once you can demonstrate five years of marriage.

Life partner visa:

You’ll need proof of a genuine relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident for at least two years in order to apply for temporary residency. For permanent residency, the requirement is five years.

Relative’s visa:

You must be a first-kin or second-kin family member of a South African citizen or permanent resident. This includes spouses, life partners, children, parents and siblings. Only first-kin relatives can apply for permanent residency.

Business visa:

You must be able to invest at least R5 million into your business and 60% of your workforce must be South Africans. Furthermore, you must submit a comprehensive business plan and set up the business in a suitable company structure.

Study visa:

A letter of acceptance from an educational institution is required, as well as medical insurance for the duration of the study visa.

To find out if you are eligible for one of the above visas, take our free immigration assessment. If you are, our immigration experts can help with your visa application.

2. How do I know if I qualify for a visa?

The best way to find out would be to get an immigration consultant with in-depth knowledge of South African immigration law, coupled with extensive experience in the industry, to assess your situation.

3. What are the South African work visa requirements for Zimbabweans?

We get the same question from other nationalities. The truth is that South Africa’s work visa requirements, as stipulated in the Immigration Act, are the same for all people from all countries. We would need to establish whether you have a job offer and get an idea of your qualifications and experience in order to advise on possible options.

However, Zimbabweans in South Africa on a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) are able to work in South Africa without applying for a further work visa. This particular visa does not allow for a change of status within SA nor does it lead to permanent residency.

4. What are the requirements for a life partner permit in South Africa?

Let us start by mentioning that the Department of Home Affairs changed the terminology in 2014. Instead, ‘visa’ now refers to temporary residency and ‘permit’ to permanent residency.

The requirements for temporary residence are:

  • You and your partner must be able to provide evidence of joint cohabitation for a minimum of two years.
  • You and your partner must be able to provide evidence of shared financial responsibility for a minimum of two years.

To apply for permanent residence, you must also be able to provide the above proof for five years instead of two years.

Read all about the life partner visa and its requirements on our website.

5. Can I submit my visa in South Africa?

If you’re a first-time applicant, you must apply from your home country. Many people assume that it’s possible to change from a visitor’s visa to a temporary residency visa in South Africa but that is incorrect.

However, if you are in South Africa already as a temporary resident, you may be able to change to an alternative temporary residency visa within South Africa. To find out if you can, it is best to call or email us for a consultation.

6. How much does a visa application cost?

If you do a visa application on your own, the main costs would be the VFS and visa application fees. Should you choose to enlist the services of an immigration agent, their fees would be added to these costs.

Other costs to take into consideration include but are not limited to:

  • Postage costs.
  • Police clearance certificate fee.
  • SAQA fee, where applicable.
  • Medical examination.
  • Translation and document certification fees.
  • Professional body registration fees.

7. How do I endorse my South African spousal visa?

When on a spousal or life partner visa, you may either work, study or conduct business by adding an endorsement on your visa. These endorsements require:

  • Work: A valid offer or contract of employment.
  • Study: A letter of acceptance from an appropriate learning institution.
  • To set up and run a business: Proof that a suitable business structure is in place.

8. How do I renew my spousal visa?

Renewing your spousal visa is essentially the same as making a first-time application. You’ll have to meet most of the requirements again. However, you can renew your visa from within South Africa.

9. Can I study in South Africa?

Yes, you can but you’ll have to have to a study visa to do so. The main requirement is having a letter of acceptance from an approved Department of Higher Education and Training learning institution

10. Can I bring my pets?

Yes, you may bring your cat or dog to South Africa. With that being said, you’ll need a veterinary import permit and your pet must be microchipped. This is non negotiable. Dogs and cats from certain parts of the world must also have had a valid rabies vaccination.

Read more about bringing pets into South Africa here.

11. How do I get permanent residence in South Africa?

There is not one standard route to permanent residence. Your route to permanent residence, and the requirements you’ll have to meet, will depend on the type of temporary residence you hold.

You can get more information about permanent residence from our visa section.

12. Can I ever lose my permanent residency status?

Yes, you can! If you are out of South Africa for three consecutive years at a time, your permanent residency will lapse. Furthermore, there may be other conditions on your permanent residency certificate and it is so important to understand them so that you can comply.

Once your permanent residency is obtained, it is all too easy to get excited after the long wait. The last thing you’d want to do is lose your status so please do ensure that you understand what is required in order to comply with your conditions.

13. How do I apply for South African citizenship?

To apply for South African citizenship you must have held permanent residence for five years from the date of obtaining your PR in South Africa. If you are eligible to apply, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will only proceed with your citizenship application when verification of your permanent residence has been confirmed by the Immigration Services (IMS) through a written and signed letter of proof of PR. You must attach this letter to your citizenship application.

You can view all the details on how to apply for South African citizenship on the DHA’s website.

Please note that Intergate Immigration does NOT assist with citizenship applications. Intergate only assists with applications for temporary and permanent residence.

Do you have other questions about immigration to South Africa?

Get in touch with us and we can do an assessment for you. Click here to start your free immigration assessment!

You can also get in touch with us by simply giving us a call on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or emailing us at

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Our team looks forward to hearing from you and assisting you with your immigration related matters!