Work Visas in Sub-Saharan Africa

Work Visa

General Work Visa

This visa type still continues to exist under the new Immigration Regulations 2014, but it will become even more tedious and will take much more time to apply for than before. The new regulations now require not only a SAQA Certificate for every applicant, even for those without qualification, section 18(3)(b), they also require a certificate by the Department of Labour (DoL) confirming in accordance with section 18(3)(a):

  1. the unsuccessful search of the employer to find a citizen or resident with the required qualifications; and
  2. that the applicant possesses said skills and experience in line with the employment offer; and
  3. that the salary and other fringe benefits are not lower than the average for the same position in South Africa (Salary Benchmark); and
  4. that the letter of employment is signed by both parties, in line with labour standards and conditional upon the General Work Visa to be issued.

Any confirmation letter by the DoL currently takes up to nine months to obtain.. Please note that no repatriation deposits are payable anymore.

Intra Company Transfer Work Visa

The Intra – Company Transfer Work Permit was implemented into the South African Immigration Law to transfer an employee from a foreign company to their South African branch, subsidiary or otherwise affiliated company. It allows international companies to transfer important and valuable employees to their South African branch, subsidiary or otherwise affiliated company for a period of 2 years under the old law.

Under the new Regulations the visa is now valid for a maximum of four years in line with international standards, and provided good reasons can be brought forward, can since July 2015 be applied for – again – for another four years. Please note, that this is not an extension but an application for a new ICT Visa and that it is currently often rejected by the embassies for the reason that the candidate had with the first four years ample time to train and up-skill a local successor!

The employee, however, has to be employed abroad at the dispatching company for a minimum of six months before he or she can receive an ICT Visa, the receiving company in South Africa needs to accept the secondment and to undertake the cover for all repatriation costs AND the company has to show a Skills Transfer Programme, by means of which the seconded foreign employee needs to up-skill and train a local or permanent resident in the skills set needed for the position occupied.

Existing ICT Permits, issued under the old law, can for now be transformed into an ICT Visa under the new Regulations with an additional two years, if applied for at least 60 calendar days before expiry.

Quota Work Permit

The Quota Work Permit used to be granted to a limited number of applicants with proven knowledge, skills or experience and qualifications within determined categories, which are not sufficiently provided for in South Africa. This permit has been abolished under the new Regulations.

Exceptional Skills Work Permit

A foreigner with exceptional skills or qualifications used to be able to apply for an Exceptional Skills Work Permit based solely on their skills or qualifications. This permit has been abolished under the new Regulations.

Critical Skills Work Visa

This visa replaces both of the above mentioned work permits and is based on the General Work Visa with identical requirements, but requires in addition not only the confirmation of the applicant’s skills by the professional body of his or industry (no matter whether there is one or not), but also proof of an application for a certificate of registration with such body, section 18(5)(a) and (b)and a Certificate issued by SAQA, the South African Qualification Authority, confirming the foreign academic or educational credentials.

The skills of the applicant have to rated as “critical” in terms of the Shortage of Occupations List, which has been published by the Minister on 3 June 2014 and can be downloaded from our Law Library: eINFO on Shortage Occupations

There will no repatriation fees payable anymore, the visa can be issued for up to five years and is easily extendable subject to what was stated above. It continues to be free of binding to an employer as the previous Exceptional Skills Permit, but will only be issued for 12 months if no employment contract is provided. In such case, please consult with Into SA prior to application as there are possible scenarios that may overcome this restriction.