All immigration permits and visas to South Africa
Are you planning to stay in SA on a temporary basis while you explore the country or investigate an employment opportunity? Have you been transferred to South Africa by your employer? Or maybe you want to study in South Africa, or join your spouse or partner? This article provides information for people in such situations, and gives advice on work visas, who qualifies, and how to apply, as well as answers to some common questions.
Under present South African legislation, there are no fewer than 13 types of temporary residence visa. Under work visas, there are four types. Because the legislation is so specific, the decision to grant a visa to someone is never left to an individual official, and it is also possible for an applicant to appeal against an unfavourable outcome.
If you are planning to invest in South Africa, or start a business in the country, you need to apply for the Business Visa. In order to do so, you need to invest a prescribed minimum amount of capital in your South African business.
The South African Department of Home Affairs has not placed any restriction on admitting foreigners to South Africa institutions as students, but the Department still has the responsibility of controlling the admission and residence of all foreign students in the country. However, if you intend to study in South Africa, you should keep the following in mind. The most important considerations when handling an application for a Study Permit are that a) a foreigner may not displace a South African citizen/resident at a local educational institution and b) the applicant needs to provide proof of sufficient funds to both support themselves in South Africa and also to pay all tuition fees and for medical cover with a South African medical aid scheme.
There are different types of Work Visas to South Africa for different situations. Usually, they are only issued to foreigners in a case where no South Africa citizen with the required skills can be appointed. However, if you possess a rare qualification or a skill that is in short supply in South Africa, you should easily qualify for a Critical Skills Work Visa. Also, if you have been transferred to South Africa by your employer, you are then regarded as “key personnel” and you may qualify for the Intra-company transfer visa, and in such a case you do not need to prove that steps were taken to source a South African citizen for the position, but you must have worked for your foreign employer for 6 months or longer.
The so-called Corporate Visa allows a company to hire many foreigners at a time, and serves to fast-track the process of securing their work visas. There are restrictions on which companies qualify for this, though.
An Exchange Visa may be granted to someone who intends to participate in a social, cultural or economic exchange programme, if the programme is run by an organ of state or a public higher educational institution, in collaboration with an organ of a foreign state. For the purposes of the exchange visa, the applicant must be under 25 years of age.
A Retired Person Visa is issued to someone who wants to retire in South Africa. The applicant needs to meet the financial criteria set out in the relevant legislation (proof of funds: R37,000 monthly).
If you are the immediate family of a South African citizen, you may qualify for the relative’s permit. In order to do so, you will need to comply with the financial criteria set out in the relevant legislation.
Where to apply for a temporary residence visa
By using South African immigration lawyers such as us, you will eliminate the need to phone and/or drive around, as this will be taken care of for you by the firm.
However, if you want to go through the process on your own, you should keep a number of things in mind. Firstly, the laws are constantly changing (most recently in May 2014). When applying for an immigration visa to South Africa, you are embarking on a legal process. Secondly, for some nationalities, in terms of present legislation, you can only change your visa status by leaving South Africa and applying from your country of origin. Therefore, for example, you may only be able to change from a temporary to a Permanent Residence Permit once you are actually outside of South Africa. Also, you can only enter South Africa once the relevant visa has actually been granted by the Department of Home Affairs. And Home Affairs is often the spanner in the works, taking very long to adjudicate even the simplest of visas or permits.
Extension of temporary residence visa
Once you have your visa and you are in South Africa, it is your responsibility to ensure that your visa is valid. Also, you can only enter South Africa if your passport is valid for not less than 30 days after the end of your stay in the country. A further requirement is that you need to apply for a new visa at least 60 calendar days before the existing one expires and at least 7 days before (for visa exempt nationalities on a 30 day visa). Keep in mind that merely applying does not grant you any status in the country. You only have leave to remain once your application has been successful (possible exceptions exist here).
As can be seen here, there are many considerations, and dealing with a reputable immigration lawyer will immediately lead you to the right one for you. Therefore, as mentioned a number of times, the best option and what ImmigrationSouthAfrica.org recommends is to use our services. Complete our eligibility assessment for more information on what to do next.