Can you work on a retirement visa in South Africa?

retirement work visa

The retirement visa for South Africa does not allow you to work in the country once the visa has been issued to you. You cannot apply for the retirement visa with a tourist visa in South Africa.

You are not allowed to earn any income from any type of employment or business whilst on this visa. The visa aims to allow retirees from abroad to live here and enjoy our wonderful country.

However, the Department of Home Affairs does make provisions to work on a retired person’s visa under special circumstances which they would need to approve first.

But let’s say that a person is interested to work due to special circumstances, how do they do this and what is the process one needs to follow?

If you need to work then these are the different South Africa visa types you can explore.

When you retire in South Africa and plan to work you need to do the following:

Step 1: Apply for a retirement visa at the South African Embassy
Step 1: Apply for a retirement visa at the South African Embassy

Your very first step is finding out if you qualify for the retirement visa by finding out what are the requirements at the South African embassy.

Bear in mind that you would first be applying for a retired person’s visa which will not have automatic rights to work. This will only be added to your visa at a later stage.

What are the qualifying criteria for the retirement visa?

  • Show that you receive a minimum monthly income of R37,000.00 per month from a retirement annuity, pension fund or investments.
  • A certificate from a chartered accountant or professional accountant proving that you are receiving the monthly income.
  • No criminal record.

Protip: If applying as a couple, the couple has to nominate a principal visa holder and one has to be an accompanying dependent on the visa.

The reason for this is that applying for 2 retired person’s visas means you have to show a financial income of R37,000.00 x 2 = R 74,000.00 per month.

Once you have all your documents, then you submit them to the South African embassy in your country of residence.

Depending on how busy the embassy is, it could take up to 3 months to process your application.

Once the visas have been issued, then travel to South Africa.

Step 2: Apply for a change of conditions in South Africa
Step 2: Apply for a change of conditions in South Africa

Once you are in South Africa, the first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with VFS to apply for the change of conditions.

You would need to compile your application with the documents that are needed and you would need to write a motivational letter citing your reasons why you are requesting to work on a retirement visa.

The information you provide within your motivational letter needs to be of good reason as to why you would like to work.

At the time of writing this, the Department of Home Affairs processing times have been hugely affected. Currently, it’s taking between 5 – 10 months to process applications with them. So be prepared for a long wait.

What other alternatives do I have?
What other alternatives do I have?

There are different types of temporary residence visas that are available to you like you could look at applying for a work visa which you might qualify for.

Work visa types:

  • Critical Skills Visa
  • General Work Visa
  • Intra-company transfer visa

These are the different types of work visas which are available to you, but you would need a job offer at the time of applying.

Once you have completed your work contract, you can then apply for a change of status in South Africa by applying for a retired person’s visa in the country.

If you are starting your own business then you can apply for a business visa to run your own business.

Can I apply for permanent residency and use that to work?
Can I apply for permanent residency and use that to work?

Technically you can submit an application for permanent residency if you have a retired person visa, but the issue with that is a permanent residence permit takes about 6 years to be processed and that’s a long time to wait.

The same goes with the financially independent visa, you would wait 6 years to receive your permanent residence permit. You need to keep in mind that for the financially independent visa, you must have a net worth of R 12 million and upon issuing the permit, R 120, 000.00 must be paid to the Department of Home Affairs.

How long does a retirement visa last in South Africa?

The visa can be issued for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 4 years and this depends on the income you are receiving from your retirement, pension or investments from assets like property etc.

A lifelong income which is guaranteed would qualify you for permanent residency.

There is no age restriction when applying for a retired person’s visa and anyone who qualifies can apply abroad.

Remember that you first need to obtain the information from the South African embassy based in your country. Requirements often differ from country to country.

Migrate With Q can assist you

When it comes to South African immigration, we can assist you by first completing a free assessment with you. We understand that the immigration system of South Africa is complex to navigate on your own and we are here to ensure that you get it the right first time.

Our immigration services are aimed at making your life easier and with a service second to none, we are sure that you will be in great hands.


About Charl

Charl Vollmer

Charl Vollmer has 8 years of experience helping people immigrate to South Africa. I am passionate about helping people and making their dreams a reality. Charl constantly stays up to date with South African Immigration rules and regulations.  To contact Charl, visit our contact page.

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