How Can I Get A Work Permit in South Africa

How Can I Get A Work Permit in South Africa

Getting a work visa for South Africa can turn out to be a nightmare if you don’t have your ducks in a row. You need to know what types of work permits are available and the qualifying criteria for each work visa type.

South Africa’s immigration system is confusing and frustrating if you are not experienced, but today we are here to give you all the information you need to qualify yourself. South Africa is a popular destination for many neighbouring countries and tourists from all over the world.

Our government which regulates the immigration law called “The Department of Home Affairs” has amended the regulations in 2014 which now prohibits first time applications from being submitted in South Africa.

This means that a first-time application must be submitted in your country of residence for any form of temporary residence visa.

Who Qualifies for A Work Permit In South Africa?
Who Qualifies for A Work Permit In South Africa?

Qualifying for a work visa for SA is dependent on your situation and whether you satisfy the requirements for the visa. All work visa types have their own set of criteria which must be satisfied to apply for the visa. Applicants with the right type of work skills and qualifications are eligible to apply for this temporary residence visa which they are allowed to add their immediate family members such as a spouse and dependents who are not of school-going age. Kids who are of school-going age must apply for the student visa for SA.

There are 6 Types of Immigration Visas Which Allow You to Work in SA:

  1. Corporate Workers Visa
  2. Critical Skills Visa
  3. General Work Visa
  4. Intra-Company Transfer Visa
  5. Life Partner Visa
  6. Spousal Visa

Corporate Workers Visa
Corporate Workers Visa

The corporate worker’s visa is a specialized type of visa which allows a business in SA to recruit a predetermined number of foreign applicants to work for the business. The business must first apply for a corporate certificate before they are allowed to recruit foreign applicants to employ within the business.

Once the business has successful received the certificate, then only may the foreign applicants apply for the corporate worker’s visa. The company needs to prove to the Department of Home Affairs that they first attempted to find South African citizens or permanent residents who could fill those positions. Family can be added as dependents to the visa.

Critical Skills Visa & the Occupation Skills List
Critical Skills Visa

The critical skills visa for South Africa aims to attract skills that are sought after which the local South African labour market can’t fill and in 2014 Home Affairs created the critical skills list which lists all the occupations which are eligible to apply.

The amazing thing about the visa is that applicants can apply for the visa without a job offer and are allowed 12 months to secure a job offer in the Republic. Any applicant who has more than 5 years of experience can apply for permanent residence.

General Work Visa
General Work Visa

The general work visa is a specialized visa that is only awarded to applicants who are highly qualified in their field of expertise and this expertise is not found within the South African market.

The prospective employer must prove to the Department of Labour and Department of Home Affairs that they have exhausted all ways and means in first finding a SA citizen or permanent resident to fill the position.

Your prospective employer needs to prove that you are qualified for the position and the ideal candidate. Applicants can apply for permanent residency after 5 continuous years on the visa.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa
Intra-Company Transfer Visa

The intra-company transfer visa allows multinational companies to send foreign staff members to SA to work at the branch for a maximum of 4 years. The business in SA must either be a branch, subsidiary or affiliate to the foreign branch.

The employee must have been working at the foreign branch for 6-months or longer to be eligible to apply for this visa. The SA branch must put in place a plan to transfer the skills from the foreign employee to a SA citizen or permanent resident.

The visa cannot be renewed and the applicant must return home before the visa expires.

Life Partner Visa
Life Partner Visa SA

The life partner visa is meant for foreign applicants who are in a permanent relationship with a SA citizen or permanent resident.

Once the applicant has been awarded a job offer in the country, they are then allowed to apply for working endorsement which entitles them to work.

The awesome thing about working on a life partner visa is that it’s fewer requirements compared to the other employment visas and less red tape to cut through.

Spousal Visa
Spousal Visa SA

Applicants who are married to SA citizens or permanent residents can apply for a spousal visa.

Once they have a job offer they can add a working endorsement that entitles them to work.

Just as the life partner visa the spousal visa has fewer requirements compared to the other employment visas.

How Much Is A Work Permit in South Africa?
How Much Is A Work Permit in South Africa?

The cost of an employment visa depends on whether you facilitate the process yourself or if you make use of an immigration agent’s services for Africa.

Doing it yourself:

  • Government Fee: R1520.00
  • VFS: Dependent on the Charge in your country of residence and SA it costs R1350.00
  • SAQA: R1,700 and R850 for additional qualification evaluations.
  • Doctors & Radiologist fees for medical and radiology report.
  • Translation fee if applicable.
  • Police clearance certificates.

The life partner visa & the spousal visa applicants do not have to pay for the following:

  • Government fee
  • SAQA

Making use of an immigration service:

  • Immigration agent fee: This depends on how much your immigration agency charges to facilitate the process for you.
  • Government Fee: R1520.00
  • VFS: Dependent on the Charge in your country of residence and SA it costs R1350.00
  • SAQA: R1,700 and R850 for additional qualification evaluations.
  • Doctors & Radiologist fees for medical and radiology report.
  • Translation fee if applicable.
  • Police clearance certificates.

Can I Work in South Africa Without a Work Permit
Can I Work in South Africa Without a Work Permit

Under no circumstances are you allowed to work in SA with no visa of any sort that allows you to legally work.

The consequences are dire which can lead you to be arrested and deported back to your country of residence. Your employer will be fined by the Department of Home Affairs and things could become a legal battle that can have a serious impact on the future of the business.

You can be listed as an undesirable person and banned from the country for a certain number of years.

You and your prospective employer should follow the legal route and apply for the visa, then once you receive the visa then only may you start working. We understand that it can be frustrating waiting on the visa to be approved, but your employer needs to be patient and understanding. 

During an interview, you must communicate to your employer that you are not allowed to work and that it could be anything from 3 months to collect documents whilst the 3rd party processes can take some time to complete. The more information that you relay and educate your prospective employer the better the expectations from them as to when you can start working.

An Immigration agent will keep your prospective employer in the loop and educate them about the visa process to set the right expectations. 

How Long Does it Take to Get a Work Permit in South Africa?
How Long Does it Take to Get a Work Permit in South Africa?

The Department of Home Affairs in SA, promises a processing time of 40 working days, but one can expect delays. In rare cases are the visas approved in these time frames so you need to keep following up online to see whether your visa is still processing or if an outcome has been reached.

The processing times abroad at a South African Embassy are way quicker and can be anything from 30-40 working days depending on how busy they are then. The busier they are the longer the processing time for the visa.

The faster you can collect all the documents for the visa and complete all 3rd party processes, the faster you can submit your application.

Immigration agents will prepare and compile your application in the fastest time frame and they can advise where to submit your application for the best result. 


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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