The Republic of South Africa is a multicultural country welcoming international talent to fill the gaps in its many thriving industries. In recent years, the country boasts one of the largest economies in Africa. Multinational companies have established branches in South Africa as well, including Dell, Toyota, Deloitte, and much more.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities in populous cities like Capetown, Durban, and Johannesburg. Working in these metropolises follows the typical UK structure. So, you’ll experience the work-life balance Europe is known for while being immersed in the unique culture and traditions of South Africa.

Before you can work and live in South Africa, however, you may have to apply for a South African work visa as a foreign national.

Do I need a work visa in South Africa?

Any individual who is not a South African citizen or permanent resident who wishes to work in the country needs to apply for a work visa for South Africa. These permits, however, are only issued if it has been proven that no qualified citizen or permanent resident of South Africa is available for appointment.

Nonetheless, the South African government is seeking foreign workers and experts in agriculture, architecture, engineering, health and clinical sciences, skilled trades, and academics.

What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in South Africa?

Work visas in South Africa are a form of temporary Residence Visas that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the country.

Work visas basically fall into two types: the General Work Visa and Critical Skills Visa. Both share the same basic requirements, varying only on professional qualifications.

The following documentation is needed:

Basic Requirements for All Visa Types

  • Completed and signed online Application Form
  • Passport with at least 2 blank pages and valid for 30 more days after expiry of intended visit
  • Proof of payment of visa fees
  • Proof of financial means (e.g. recent three-month bank statements stamped by the bank)
  • Proof of accommodation once in South Africa
  • Proof of employer’s accountability for deportation costs, should it be necessary
  • Proof of employer’s undertaking that the applicant’s visa is valid throughout the employment period
  • Qualifications translated and evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • Medical or radiological reports (not older than six months)
  • Vaccination certificate
  • Police clearance from the country of residence (since 18 years old or at least 12 months of residency)
  • Marriage certificate or children’s birth certificates, if included in the application

General Work Visa

This visa is the most common type for non-specialized work.

  • Basic requirements for all visa types mentioned above
  • Contract of employment (signed by you and your employer)
  • Certificate from the South African Department of Labour (confirming no South African local is available for employment, and the salary and benefits of the foreign applicant are in line with local standards)
  • Proof of employer’s registration with the Registrar of Companies

Critical Skills Work Visa

This visa type is for highly skilled migrants.

  • Basic requirements for all visa types mentioned above
  • Proof that applicant falls within critical skills category
  • If required by law, proof of registration with the professional body recognized by SAQA

People who transfer between their company’s multinational branches need an Intra-company Transfer Work Visa (ICT). It follows the same requirements as above, but with an added letter from the company confirming the transfer.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in South Africa

1. Identify the type of visa you need

Visas are issued on what particular expertise or skill the country needs, so it is best to verify your type of employment in South Africa. If you have a job offer already, you can immediately apply for any type of visa depending on your profession.

If you do not have a job offer yet, you can review the South African critical skills list by the Ministry of Home Affairs to see your eligibility for South Africa work visa. Nonetheless, you can still apply to the embassy with or without an offer as long as you find employment within one year in the country.

2. Prepare your documentary requirements

Gather all the requirements listed above or as stated on the South African Department of Home Affairs visa information page. Most on the list are personal documents that can be acquired in your country of residence, while a few should come from your employer.

You can find the South African work visa application form here. Make sure to answer digitally and have it printed and signed. Handwritten applications are not accepted.

To have your professional qualifications verified, visit the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) website here. SAQA assesses your qualifications in compliance with the South African national requirements. This process may incur some fees.

3. Submit your application to the South African embassy

Once your documents are complete for South African work visa, arrange an appointment with a South African representative organization in your country of residence. You can visit the South African embassy, consulate, diplomatic body, or a Visa Facilitation Centre (VFS) if in South Africa.

During your appointment, you will submit biometric information such as fingerprints and photographs. Interviews are not mandatory but Home Affairs officers have the right to request them.

Also, prepare a minimum of R1350 or 94.33 USD to secure your application. The processing time depends on the visa category, but a minimum of 8 – 10 weeks is advised.

4. Travel to South Africa

Only make travel arrangements once your temporary work visa is issued. It is best to have a passport valid for six more months to avoid problems at the airport. Familiarize yourself with the entry, re-entry, and exit requirements. For instance, most points of entry require biometric capturing, while select locations have yellow fever certificate requirements.

Work visas are valid for the duration of your employment or up to five years, except for the Intra-company transfer visa which is valid for four years. In most cases, they are amenable to extensions as well. You just have to apply for extensions at least 90 days before the expiry of your present visa.

General Work Visa holders for five years may apply for Permanent Residence Permit, while Critical Work Visa holders may apply immediately as long as they have proven five years of experience in their expertise.


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