South Africa Immigration Options

Intro to South African Visas

Thinking about coming to South Africa to visit, work, join family or study. Today you are in the right place to get all the information you need. To do either one of these means you need to apply for a visa which is issued by the Department of Home Affairs to foreign nationals. The type of visa you need to apply for typically depends on the activity you wish to do in South Africa.

Immigration agents South Africa are here to advise you and assist you in compiling your visa application.

The Different Types of Visa and Permit Options:

1. Short-Term Visas:

Short Term South African Visas

Visitors visas may are issued for different purposes:

  • Tourism or visiting family members
  • Business meetings and conferences
  • accompanying dependent to join a spouse who is studying or working in SA
  • Undertake short-term studying courses for educational purposes
  • Volunteering activities
  • research activities
  • Working in a production of a movie or show
  • Medical treatments (3 months or less)
  • Sporting events
  • Short-term work visa

Certain countries are exempt from applying for a visitors visa while certain countries should apply through a South African embassy or consulate before entering South Africa. Your visa will allow you entry into the country for either 30 or 90 days. When you board your flight, you are obliged to show your visa if your country is not exempt from applying for a visa.

Find out if you fall under the visa exempt countries for South Africa.

Please always ensure that your visa is valid at all times and that you leave before your visa expires. Our blog post explains “What is the penalty for overstaying on an expired visa in South Africa

2. Family Visas:

South African Family Visas

I’ve grouped these visas under the family category as it mainly involves visas that revolve around family.

Relatives Visa:

The relative’s visa for South Africa allows the first kinship and second kinship family to apply for this temporary residence visa. This means that children or parents could apply for the visa due to first kinship and brothers or sisters can apply for the visa. The difference between the two is that the first kinship will qualify for permanent residence, whereas the second kinship will not qualify for permanent residency. The disadvantage of this visa is that you are not allowed to work. The visa is valid for 2 years if your sponsor meets the financial threshold.

Spousal Visa:

If you are married to a South African citizen or permanent resident then you can apply for a spousal visa for South Africa. The spouse visa allows you to reside with your partner in the country for 2 years. The advantage of this visa is that you can add the following endorsements:

  • Working endorsement – Allows you to Work
  • Business endorsement – This allows you to start your own business
  • Study endorsement – To further your education

To have any of the above endorsements, you need to apply for it in South Africa which is technically the section 11(6) immigration act South Africa which places it under the visit visa category.

If you are thinking of getting married in SA then getting some awesome tips on the immigration interview for marriage in South Africa will give you some valuable insight on what to expect.

Life Partner Visa:

The life partner visa for South Africa allows a foreign national who is in a permanent relationship with a South African citizen or permanent resident to reside in the country alongside their partner. This visa allows you to stay in the country for 2 years and allows the following endorsements:

  • Working endorsement
  • Business endorsement
  • Study Endorsement

3. Work Visas:

SA Work Visas

There are several work visas that the Department of Home Affairs has to offer the international foreign workforce who like to work in South Africa. The government has made several provisions to attract highly skilled foreigners to work in the republic. We would encourage the use of an immigration agent, you might be thinking “how much does an immigration lawyer cost in South Africa” to your surprise, not that much.

They can assist you with a waiver letter for immigration in South Africa.

Critical Skills Visa:

The critical skills visa for South Africa were introduced in 2014 to attract highly skilled foreigners to fill the positions that a South African person could not. The government has identified certain occupations that are in high demand that the South African workforce could not satisfy. The critical skills aim to attract the skills that are needed. The advantage of the scarce skills visa is that you can apply for permanent residency immediately if you can prove 5 years of work experience. You can apply for a 12 month CS visa if you would like to seek employment in SA.

The visa is valid for 5 years and you are allowed accompanying dependents to be added to your visa.

General Work Visa:

The general work visa for South Africa allows a foreign applicant to work in the country for 5 years or less depending on the duration of your contract with your employer. This is visa is the most difficult visa you can apply for. The applicant and employer must prove to the Department of Labour and Department of Home Affairs that they have exhausted every avenue in first finding a SA citizen before seeking foreign talent.

The duration of the visa is 5 years or less and applicants can qualify for permanent residency after 5 years of continuously being on the visa. You are allowed to add accompanying dependents.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa:

The intra company transfer visa allows foreign nationals to transfer from a branch abroad to a branch in South Africa. The visa is valid for 2-4 years and the applicant must show proof of how their skills would be transferred to a local SA citizen. You need to be employed abroad for 6 months or more to qualify for this visa and this visa may not be renewed and you do not qualify for permanent residency.

4. Business Visa

SA business Visa

People who would like to start their own business in South Africa can apply for this business visa and add their families as dependents. To qualify for this visa, applicants must prove that they can invest R 5 million within the business for a year and show that they employed at least 50% SA citizens or permanent residents. Investing in SA will help boost the economic climate and provide jobs to the people of the country. The application must be submitted abroad in your country of residence as it’s important to remember that you may not apply in South Africa whilst on a visit visa.

5. Corporate Visa

Corporate Visa Explanation

The corporate visa allows a corporation to employ a large number of foreign nationals to work for them. To qualify for this visa, the business must prove to the Department of Labour and Department of Home Affairs that they have exhausted all avenues to find local talent before opting to employ foreigners. The company first has to apply for the corporate visa and once approved then only may they start hiring foreign nationals who then needs to apply for a corporate workers visa.

6. Study Visa

Students on a study visa

Children and adults who would like to attend a school or a university in SA must apply for a study visa. To qualify for the study visa, an applicant must have been accepted at an educational institution that is accepted by the Department of Education.

7. Volunteers Visa

People volunteering in South Africa

If you are looking to volunteer in South Africa then you can apply for a volunteers visa. To qualify for the visa, you must be accepted by an organization that is recognized in South Africa and you would need a letter of acceptance to prove this. The volunteer should not be compensated in terms of receiving a salary.


8. Financially Independent Permit

Financially Dependent Visa networth

A financially independent permit is a fast track to permanent residency, in other words buying permanent residency status. So there is no form of temporary residency visa but you are awarded a permanent residency permit. Included with this application service is paying a hefty fee upon approval and the qualifying criteria are to prove that you have a net worth of R 12 million.

If you are new to South African immigration, then hopefully this blog post has helped you with making the right choice of visa. We understand that this could be overwhelming to you and you are more than welcome to make use of our immigration service in South Africa to assist you in applying for your visa, we have many years of experience in the immigration industry. Our services include a free assessment to assess whether you qualify before bringing you on board as a client. If you need assistance with a permanent residence permit, then we can certainly assist you with any new temporary residence application. All you need to do is explain your situation and state what you need from us.

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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