Foreigners who are contemplating investing in the South African economy by establishing a business or by investing in an existing business in the country must apply for a business visa, if it is his or her intention to be employed in the business.

The following documents must form part of a business visa application:

  • A certificate issued by a Chartered Accountant or a Professional Accountant registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants to the effect that you have at least R5 000 000 available in cash, or at least R5 000 000 in cash and capital to be invested in the Republic.
  • A recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry regarding the feasibility of the business and the contribution of the business to the national interest of the Republic.
  • An undertaking that at least 60% of the total staff compliment to be employed in the operations of the business shall be South African citizens or permanent residents employed permanently in various positions.
  • An undertaking to register with the-
    1. South African Revenue Service;
    2. Unemployment Insurance Fund;
    3. Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries and Diseases;
    4. Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC); where legally required; and
    5. Relevant professional body, board or council recognised by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act, where applicable.

The holder of a business visa is entitled to study part-time, without the need to apply for permission from the Department of Home Affairs in the form of an application for change of conditions to an existing business visa.

General Work Visas are issued to foreigners where it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that South African citizens and permanent residents with the relevant qualifications or skills and experience are not available for appointment. Prior to submitting an application for a general work visa, the applicant’s prospective employer is required to apply to the Department of Labour for a certificate confirming that-

  • despite diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable candidate with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant;
  • the applicant has qualifications or proven skills and experience in line with the job offer;
  • the salary and benefits of the applicant are not inferior to the average salary and benefits of citizens or employees occupying similar positions in the Republic;
  • a contract of employment stipulating the conditions of employment and signed by both the employer and the applicant is in line with the labour standards in the Republic and is made conditional upon the general work visa being approved;
  • proof of qualifications evaluated by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic was submitted; and
  • full particulars of the employer, including, where applicable, proof of registration of the business with the Commission on Intellectual Property and Companies (CIPC).

Critical Skills Work Visas

From time to time the Minister of Home Affairs publishes a Critical Skills list in a Government Gazette. Prior to submitting an application for a Critical Skills Work Visa, the applicant is required to have his or her foreign qualification(s) translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic and to have such qualification(s) evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The applicant is also required to obtain written confirmation(s) from a professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA or any relevant government department confirming the skills or qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience. In the event that any law in South Africa requires of you to be professionally registered in order to practice your profession, your application must contain proof of an application made for a certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA.

Intra-company Transfer Work Visas

Occasionally, multi-national companies may decide to transfer an existing employee in a key position from a foreign branch to a branch, subsidiary or an affiliate of that company in South Africa. These employees must apply for intra-company transfer work permits. In such cases, no proof of steps taken to obtain the services of a South African citizen or permanent residence will be required. However, it is required that the applicant must have been employed in the company abroad for at least six months prior to his or her transfer to the South African operations and the South African branch, subsidiary or affiliate company must provide a skills transfer plan as proof that the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident will take place. Intra-company transfer work visas are issued for a maximum period of four years and are not renewable or extendable. Should the continued services of the applicant for some or other reason be required by the South African operations at the end of the four year term, an application for a new intra-company transfer work visa must be applied for from the applicant’s country of origin or of permanent residence.

Study visas are only issued for studies at the following learning institutions-

  • a school contemplated in section 1 of the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act No 84 of 1996); or
  • a college established in terms of the Further Education and Training Colleges Act, 2006 (Act No 16 of 2006), but excluding a school offering further education and training programmes under the South African Schools Act or a college under the authority of a government department other than the Department of Higher Education and Training; or
  • an institution of higher education established in terms of the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act No 101 of 1997).
  • Students are required to provide proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act. However, where a student is attending a school contemplated in section 1 of the South African Schools Act as the dependent child of a parent holding a visa issued in terms of section 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20 or 22 of the Immigration Act and is registered on the medical aid or international health insurance of such parent, proof of South African medical cover is not required.
A persons who wish to retire in South Africa may apply for a retired person visa, provided that he or she receives at least R37 000 per month from a pension fund or an irrevocable retirement annuity or has a net worth or a combination of assets realising a minimum monthly income of R37 000.

The immediate family member of a South African citizen or permanent resident, i.e. father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather and grandmother may apply for a relative’s visa, provided that the South African citizen or permanent resident has available an amount of at least R8 500 per person per month as proof of his or her ability to financially care for the applicant. Proof of kinship must be proven in the form of an unabridged birth certificate. However, where an application is made by or on behalf of the child of a South African citizen or permanent resident, the Department may, in addition to an unabridged birth certificate, also require paternity test results to be submitted.

Any foreigner who needs to undergo medical treatment in the Republic is required to apply for a medical treatment visa, which visa may be issued for periods of six months at a time. An application for a medical treatment visa must be accompanied by a letter from the applicant’s registered medical practitioner or medical institution within the Republic confirming that space is available at the medical institution; the estimated costs of the treatment; whether or not the disease or ailment is treatable or curable; the treatment schedule and the period of intended treatment in the Republic. Details must also be submitted by the person or institution responsible for the medical expenses and hospital fees and where the applicant’s medical scheme or employer is not liable for expenses incurred, proof of financial means to cover the medical costs and costs indirectly related to the treatment must be submitted.