Immigration to South Africa

Immigration to South Africa
Immigration to South Africa

If you are considering immigration to South Africa look no further than the South African immigration experts – Intergate Immigration.

No doubt you will have many questions about your prospective immigration to South Africa! Our philosophy of treating every enquiry as if you were a client already means you can rely on us for sound advice, expert knowledge, and thorough implementation.

Below are some of the more frequent questions we receive, but if you want a more personal response feel free to use the contact box above.

Some people say ‘visa’, while others say ‘permit’. What is the correct terminology?

The immigration rules of South Africa set out both visas and permits. Generally speaking, visas are for temporary residency whereas a permit is for permanent residency.

In everyday use, it’s common for many people to simply use the terminology visa.

How do I find out if I’m eligible for emigration to South Africa?

There are a number of options to assess your eligibility. As South Africa does not operate a points-based system it is essential to seek the advice of one of our advisors. Contact us today to find out more.

Assessing your eligibility for immigration to South Africa is done by our team on a no-fee basis and there is no obligation from your side.

What visa options are available for immigration to South Africa?

There are a number of visa and permits available. Go to our South African visa section for a full listing and descriptions.

What is the Department of Home Affairs’ website?

The Department of Home Affairs website is

Do I have to use an immigration company to make my application for immigration to South Africa?

It is not a requirement that you use the services of an immigration practitioner for visa applications. However, using one will greatly enhance the chance of a successful outcome. An immigration practitioner will guide you through all the available options, assess your eligibility, compile your application, and submit and monitor it at the appropriate Department of Home Affairs, consulate or embassy.

Be sure to check the immigration company’s credentials. There are unfortunately a lot of so-called ‘experts’ that are little more than one-man outfits with no registered practitioners employed.

Here are three things to check:

  • The number of immigration practitioners in the company.
  • Make sure the company is registered with a commercial address. Ask for a copy of the company registration papers. The registration paper will show when the company was formed and where it is situated.
  • Industry affiliations and endorsements.

How much would I expect to pay an immigration company?

This can vary according to the type of the permit or visa you require. A simple study visa should be in the region of R4,000 to R6,000 whereas as a more comprehensive business visa that includes business plans, company set-ups, and CA certificates could be up to R45,000.

Where do I submit my application?

Applications for immigration to South Africa can be made at South African embassies or consulates around the world or at a Department of Home Affairs in South Africa. The final decision is made taking into account your personal circumstances, the type of visa or permit applied for, and the presence of Home Affairs in your country of abode.

Can I come to South Africa on a tourist visa and apply for my residency visa, or do I have to apply in my home country?

No, you cannot change your visa status in South Africa while on a tourist visa. If you’d like to apply for a residency visa, you have to return to your home country and do so from there.

I wish to return to South Africa with my foreign partner but we are not married. What type of visa does my partner need and can they work?

South Africa’s immigration rules do not prejudice unmarried couples as long as you are in a life-long relationship.

The correct visa for your partner to apply for (for immigration to South Africa and to be able to work) would be a life partner visa. Once your partner has secured a job offer they can obtain an endorsement that allows them to work, negating some of the more formal requirements under a work visa.

More information can be found in our life partners section.

I’m a foreign national coming to South Africa. Can my family join me?

If you hold one of the following visas, your immediate family members (spouse or life partner and dependent children) are allowed to also come to South Africa:

  • Critical skills work visa.
  • General work visa.
  • Intra-company transfer work visa.
  • Study visa (Adult).
  • Retired persons visa.

It is important to note, however, that your family must obtain the appropriate visas. For a spouse or life partner, it would be an accompanying spouse visa. For children, it would be study visas to enable them to attend school, or accompanying minor visas, if they are not yet of school-going age.

Your spouse or life partner is not permitted to work, start a business or study on an accompanying dependent visa. This visa only allows them to reside in South Africa. Your spouse or life partner would have to apply for a visa in their own right if they want to conduct any of the mentioned activities while in South Africa.

Unfortunately the corporate workers visa does not allow family members to join the visa holder in South Africa.

What is the difference between a general work visa and a critical skills work visa?

The critical skills work visa is based on a list of occupations in demand in South Africa. These occupations have all been identified by looking at the skills shortages in South Africa. This is where overseas talent are needed to alleviate skills shortages.

You’re eligible to apply for PR through the critical skills work visa immediately if you have 5 years of relevant work experience. This work experience can come from working overseas or in South Africa.

The general work visa, on the other hand, does not have specific occupations tied to it. This route is usually explored by companies when they cannot find a local to fill a position, and the position in question is not considered on the Critical Skills List. However, the company must be able to prove that they did first take all reasonable measures to find a suitable South African.

You’re also eligible to apply for Permanent Residence through the general work visa with 5 years of relevant work experience. However, this work experience must come from working in South Africa on an eligible work visa. The Department of Home Affairs does not take into consideration work experience gained overseas.

My wife and I are considering immigration to South Africa as retirees. What sort of things should we consider?

Apart from the actual retirement visa, you should consider the following if you want to retire in South Africa:

  • Your tax situation: South Africa could be described as tax friendly to retired people. The Capital Gains tax rate is 18% and does not levy tax on overseas pensions. The impact of this can be a substantially higher income for those who correctly deal with residency issues.
  • Medical insurance: Although medical insurance is not required when retiring to South Africa, it is recommended.
  • Where you’re going to live: South Africa offers immigrants a wonderful selection of property. Options range from luxurious retirement villages through to apartments and seafront houses. Buying property in South Africa can be a trying process and anyone who wants to do it should consider using the services of a professional buyers’ consultant.

How do I go about setting up a business in South Africa?

You would need a business visa to set up a business in South Africa. The same goes for when you want to buy into or purchase an existing business.

The most important visa requirements you’d have to meet would be:

When can I apply for permanent residency and citizenship?

The requirements for permanent residency depends on the type of visa you hold. It is best to check the requirements with one of our consultants.

Permanent residents can apply for citizenship after 10 years from the date of obtaining permanent residence.

Please note: Permanent residency and citizenship may change in the future, as set out in the White Paper on International Immigration in 2017. The Department of Home Affairs is looking to replace permanent residency with long-term residence visas. The Department also wants to delink permanent residency and citizenship. You can read more about these proposed changes on our blog.

Can my parents join our family in South Africa?

Yes, your parents may, provided they meet the requirements for a relatives visa.

I’d like to study in South Africa. What requirements should I meet in order to apply for a student visa?

The main criteria for a student visa are the following:

  • The learning institution you intend to study at must be registered with the South African Board of Education by the Department of Home Affairs or the relevant South African Commission or Embassy.
  • A letter of acceptance from the learning institution.
  • Proof of South African registered medical insurance. The DHA does not accept international or foreign medical insurances for study visa applications.

You can read more about student visas here.

What role do VFS play?

VFS is appointed by the South African government to facilitate visa applications.

VFS does not decide on the outcome of your visa. They are simply the ‘middleman’ between yourself and the Department of Home Affairs. You submit your visa application at VFS and VFS sends it to the DHA. Once the DHA reaches an outcome, the outcome is dispatched to VFS who issues it to you.

Important to note that VFS agents are not permitted to dispense immigration advice. If you’re unsure about anything you’re told at VFS, please contact us or your immigration consultant.

Who makes the decision to approve or deny my application?

The outcome of your visa application rests solely with the Department of Home Affairs. With visas where the Department of Labour or the Department of Trade and Industry make recommendations, the Department of Home Affairs will take into account these recommendations when making their decision.

Immigration companies, like Intergate Immigration, and VFS do not have any influence over the outcome of your application.

Getting help with your visa or permit application

We welcome the opportunity to consult with you on your eligibility for a visa or permit and to answer any questions you may have about immigration to South Africa with no obligation.

You can take our free assessment here or request a call back for more information. Or simply call us at +27 (0)21 424 2460.

Alternatively, use the enquiry form below to contact us.


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