Work Visa in South Africa
General Work Visa
This visa type still continues to exist under the Immigration Regulations 2014, but it has in the meantime become even more tedious and it takes far more time to apply for than before.
The current regulations require not only a SAQA (South African Qualification Authority) 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):
- the unsuccessful search of the employer to find a citizen or resident with the required qualifications; and
- that the applicant possesses said skills and experience in line with the employment offer; and
- that the salary and other fringe benefits are not lower than the average for the same position in South Africa (Salary Benchmark); and
- 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, but that after having been in possession of a General Work Visa for five years or longer, a permanent residence permit may be granted.
Intra Company Transfer Work Visa
The Intra – Company Transfer Work Visa (ICT Visa) enables a company to transfer an important employee from the foreign company holding to their South African branch, subsidiary or otherwise affiliated company for a maximum period of 4 (four!)
Provided good reasons can be brought forward, an ICT Visa can 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 applying employee, however, has to be employed abroad at the seconding company holding 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 Program, by means of which the seconded foreign employee needs to up-skill and train a South African or permanent resident in South Africa in the skills set needed for the position occupied.
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 in 2014.
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 in 2014.
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 be rated as “critical” in terms of the Shortage of Occupations List, which was already published by the Minister in 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 from any 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.
Please note that any holder of a Critical Skills Work Visa may at any time apply for a permanent residence permit based on the same skills.
NOTE FOR ENGINEERS: Due to the necessity of most engineers to seek the membership with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as the professional body, they need to be advised that ECSA has shown extreme discriminatory and xenophobic tendencies in the past, leading to arbitrary rejection of memberships or extreme delays in membership processing, so that a time frame of 12 months is in average needed to get a complete application ready for submission.