It is quite a prevalent thought that studying abroad is costly and something that only those born with silver spoons can afford. In reality, you can be an international student even with minimal finances. It significantly depends on where you want to study.

South Africa offers one of the most affordable tuition and living costs to international students. Despite the affordability, the universities here are world-class, such as the University of Cape Town, which secured a spot in the top 10% universities of QS ranking for 2021. Besides the quality of education, you’re in for some adventure in its stunning natural sights. If you love the outdoors, South Africa can provide you with the best adventures.

However, before you can study in this country, you’ll need to acquire a student visa in South Africa. In this article, you will learn about the documents you need, the relevant costs, and the steps to get a student visa in South Africa.

What documents do you need to apply for a student visa in South Africa?

You will need to submit the following documents to get a student visa in South Africa:

  • Accomplished online form or the DHA-1738 application form
  • Valid passport that should be valid up to more 30 days from the date of your departure from South Africa
  • A vaccination certificates
  • Proof of financial capacity to cover tuition and living expenses
  • Proof of health insurance or a medical aid coverage certificate, renewable annually
  • A cash deposit equal to the return ticket value
  • Medical and radiology reports
  • Official letter from your host university
  • A police clearance certificate from an authorized police agency in a country you stayed within the last 12 months or longer since reaching age 18
  • Medical and radiology report from the last six months

Applicants Under 18 Years Old

If you’re under 18 years old, these are additional documents you’ll need to submit:

  • Birth certificate or legal adoption
  • Proof of your parents’ identity
  • Proof of address and contact number of an adult in South Africa who will take the role of your guardian during your stay

You’ll also need to provide written consent from your parents or guardian, considering the following conditions:

  • Written consent from both of your parents if they’re still married
  • Written consent from one of your parents if they are divorced
  • Written consent from a guardian if you’re parents are deceased or you don’t live with them
  • Additional documents as proof of your parental situation

How much money do you need for a South Africa Student Visa?

When applying for a South Africa student visa, you’ll need to pay an application fee of around $107. Besides that, you’ll also need to prove your financial capacity to stay and study in this country without working. As such, make sure to prepare for the following expenses:

  • Tuition fees: $1,400 to $2,000 per year
  • On-campus Accommodation: $2920 to $4000 per year
  • Meal:  $3 per day
  • Transportation: $50 per month
  • Utilities: $44 to $101 per month
  • Insurance: $8.50 per month

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Steps on Applying for a Student Visa in South Africa

1. Fill Out the Form DHA-1738

One of the crucial requirements to apply for a student visa in South Africa is the application form, also referred to as the DHA-1738 form. This form is technically for a temporary residence permit, which includes a study visa. You can request a copy of this from the South African embassy website.

In some countries, applying for a student visa need not go through the embassy. The South African embassy commissions a Visa Facilitation Center, called VFS Global, to handle all visa applications in your home country. In this case, you can check their website how best to start your application.

2. Confirm Other Requirements through the Embassy

Make sure that you’re also preparing the proper documents for your visa application. The requirements differ depending on the country you’re applying from, and it makes sense to contact the embassy to confirm.

Check out this list of South African embassies worldwide. Select the city under your home country on the list, and you’ll be redirected to the South Africa embassy website. The website also typically shows the application fee you’ll have to pay when you submit your application. For example, applications from countries in North America can view the schedule of fees here.

3. Make a Checklist of Requirements and Ensure Completion

After confirming if there are additional requirements, you need to submit besides the ones stated here, make sure to create a checklist. This will allow you to monitor all documents you need to prepare. Since you’ll need to prepare quite a lot of paperwork, this checklist can help you get organized and work promptly. After all, you’ll have a limited time to complete your requirements, from the time you receive the acceptance letter to starting date of your semester at a South African university.

4. Submit your Requirements at the Embassy

You can check the embassy website to confirm if you need an appointment to submit your requirements for a South Africa student visa. For example, the South African embassy in Chicago, United States of America, is strictly appointment-based for visa applications. Their applicants have to send an email through to set an appointment.

In other countries, you’ll have to submit your application through a visa facilitation center. For example, the website of the South African embassy in the United Kingdom will redirect you to VFS Global’s website if you’re looking to apply for a visa.

5. Track Your Application

If you submitted your application through a visa facilitation center, you could easily track its progress through their website. Make sure to keep a copy of your reference number provided when you submitted your application.

On the other hand, you might have submitted through the South African embassy. In this case, you can track your application through email. Make sure to provide an active email address. Also, confirm with the consul regarding the time frame so you can manage your expectations.

6. Collect Your Visa and Passport

You will receive an update on your preferred communication mode once your visa and passport are ready for pickup. Your South Africa student visa is valid for the entirety of your declared study duration. If you want to pursue higher study levels or other fields and prolong your stay, you’ll need to apply for a visa extension. You can apply for an extension as often as you need, but make sure to file your application six months before your visa expires.


I hope that this article on how to apply for a South Africa student visa was helpful.If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to check out the Available Programs for International Students!