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Recently we have had quite a few clients enquiring about coming to work in South Africa and want to know what options they have regarding work visas/permits.

Legislation in South Africa is aimed at protecting employment opportunities for that of its citizens, therefore work visas/permits will only be issued if the relevant position is unable to be filled by a citizen due to a lack of expertise in that role.

There are a few different options with regard to work visas/permits, namely:

  1. Critical Skills Work Visawork permit south africa
  2. General Work Visa
  3. Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa
  4. Corporate Visa
  5. Business Visa

Critical Skills Work Visa

This visa was introduced in the new immigration regulations last year in June.  The key feature of this visa is that you are able to enter and stay in South Africa for a period of 12 months to secure a position.  That being said, the main requirement is that your skill set needs to feature on the critical skills list.  The list is broken down into categories with your educational subject first and then split further into occupations.

Further features of this visa is the ability to obtain a work visa without a job offer, it deals with professional bodies that are specific to the occupation and you have the freedom to move between employers unlike other visa types.

A copy of the Government Gazette that lists all the critical skills positions is available on the VFS Global website.

General Work Visa

Unlike the other types of work visas, this visa requires that an employer has made every attempt to employ a South African citizen or permanent resident in the position on offer.  Proof of such attempts will need to be shown when making application.

Those who do not meet the requirements for other visa categories would need to apply through the General Work Visa route.  The basic qualifying criteria will be required when making application, such as health and good standing proof, a job offer and acceptance, South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) of the applicant’s qualification, Curriculum Vitae (CV) and proof of the employers attempts to recruit a SA citizen.

The application process takes approximately 8 – 12 weeks, however delays are common.  The visa is valid for between 2 and 4 years.  Extensions to the visa expiry date can be made. All applications must be made at the SA embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country.

Spouses need not apply for a general work visa however they will need to apply for a spousal/partner visa.  Families with children who need to attend school will need to apply for a student visa for each child.

You can apply for Permanent Residency after having held your General Work Visa for an unbroken period of 5 years.

Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa

Intra-Company Transfer Work Visas are for those who need to transfer from their company overseas to a branch, subsidiary or affiliated company that operates in South Africa.

This immigration route is one of a temporary nature, in that it allows the employee the transfer option but for a maximum of 4 years.  If the employee will be needed for a period of more than 4 years, other routes will need to be explored.

This visa is a temporary work visa only and cannot be extended past 4 years.  Employees who are going to make use of this visa need to note that application must be made in their home country and the visa granted before entry into South Africa.

Corporate Visa

Companies can apply for a Corporate Visa that entitles them to employ a pre-determined number of skilled/semi-skilled/unskilled workers.  This visa has no specific validity period as that this is determined and stipulated by the corporate entity upon application.

The Department of Home Affairs has to refer the application to the Department of Labour as well as the Department of Trade & Industry who will then approve the number of foreign workers who can be employed by the entity, before the application is approved.

Unskilled workers will need to apply for Temporary Residence Permits before entry into South Africa while skilled workers will need to apply for a General Work Visa, although they will not need to comply with all the requirements of the General Work Visa.

Business Visa

Business Visas are split into 2 different categories, namely for those who want to invest in an existing business or for those wanting to invest in a new business.

If gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to enter and stay in South Africa to operate their own business.  Changes to the regulations in 2014 aimed to protect opportunities for locals but also encourage investment and entrepreneurs from outside South Africa.

Those seeking temporary and/or permanent residency in South Africa and who want to start up and run their own business would apply for the Business Visa.

The business can be a brand new venture, a purchased company or a partnership.

When looking to apply for a Business Visa you should be aware of some of the main requirements:

  • A minimum investment of R5 Million (Five Million Rand), this can be reduced with a waiver application in certain circumstances;
  • 60% of the workforce must be South African, meaning the business must create jobs;
  • A business plan showing the viability of the business to be a success;
  • There must be an appropriate legal company structure;
  • Various registrations to ensure tax compliance and worker obligations; and
  • The business must be of a desirable nature.

Due to the sometimes complex nature of work visas it is advisable to contact a reputable immigration company to assist you in this matter as they can guide you through the process so that you have the best chance of succeeding with your application.

Contact us for further information.