8 Facts worth knowing about South Africa’s work visas

Eager to apply for a South African work visa? Then this article is essential reading. This information will familiarise you with eight of South Africa’s most important work visa rules and regulations.

1. You need a job offer

You cannot apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa or a General Work Visa without a formal job offer. That means the job offer comes first and the visa application afterwards.

With the General Work Visa, the employer has to prove that they advertised the position and could not find a suitable South African to fill the role.

That is not a requirement of the Critical Skills Work Visa because it is for highly-skilled professionals in occupations in South Africa that are short of local talent. There are thus not enough South Africans to fill the gaps in the job market.

2. Your visa will be employer-specific

You’re only allowed to work for the South African employer listed on your work visa – the employer who extended the job offer – when you’re a South African work visa holder.

You can change employers, but that would mean applying for a change of conditions on your visa. Unfortunately, this application is much the same as a brand-new visa application.

3. You can’t start working in South Africa before you have your visa

You might be eager to start your new job, but unfortunately, you can’t do that without your South African work visa in your passport. It’s not enough to have an application in the system!

4. You apply from abroad if it’s a first-time application

You must submit your visa application in your country of origin or at the nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad if you want to apply for a long-term visa that allows you to stay in South Africa for more than six months, but you do not hold a valid South African temporary visa.

5. SAQA must evaluate your qualifications

You’ll need a SAQA certificate to apply for most South African work visas. SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority, and it’s a formal body that evaluates foreign qualifications.

SAQA will assess your foreign qualifications and benchmark them against a South African qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Once SAQA has done its assessment, you’ll get a certificate outlining the comparable NQF rating to submit with your work visa application.

6. Critical skills work visa applicants must register with the relevant professional body

Critical skills work visa applicants must get a SAQA certificate and register with their industry’s professional body. You must do SAQA first, and you’ll need a letter of assessment or recommendation from the professional body for your Critical Skills Work Visa application. You cannot apply without the latter.

7. Intra-company Transfer work visas are specifically for transferring employees from overseas to South Africa

If your employer wants to move you to its South African operation, you could apply for an Intra-company Transfer Work Visa.

The South African company must be a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the overseas company. Furthermore, you must have worked for your employer for at least six months, and your tenure in South Africa can’t be for longer than four years.

8. It takes 8 to 12 weeks to get an outcome on work visa applications

When submitting your Critical Skills Work Visa application from within South Africa, and you can typically expect an outcome within 8 to 12 weeks. Remember that delays do happen, so work with your immigration consultant to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

It takes slightly longer when you’re submitting from abroad. You can then expect to wait, on average, 90 days for an outcome on your application.

Need help applying for your work visa?

Contact us! Our immigration experts can advise on South Africa’s work visas and assist with applications.

The first step is determining the visa for which you qualify. The following steps are putting your application together and getting it ready for submission. We can also accompany you to your VFS appointment if you live in Cape Town.

Request a call-back or take our online immigration assessment if that sounds good. Either way, one of our consultants will contact you to discuss your work visa eligibility and the way forward.