South Africa possesses world-class educational facilities. South African graduates are employed in various sectors all over the world. For this reason, many people come to South Africa in order to further their education. If it is your intention to do so, you need to apply for a Study Visa.
The requirements for the Study Visa depend on how old you are, although the visa covers study at any registered learning institution, from schools to universities. Make very sure that your learning institution is registered. Applications are made to the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.
If you are older than 21, you need to provide proof from the institution you are going to attend that you have been accepted for the proposed course of study, and that the person or organisation sponsoring your studies will be able to support you financially during your time in South Africa. If you are not being sponsored by anyone, you need to prove your own ability to support yourself financially. You also need to show proof that you will have medical insurance for the duration of your stay in South Africa.
If you are younger than 21, in addition to the requirements mentioned above, you need to nominate a local guardian in South Africa. This South African guardian must be someone who has been officially approved by your guardian/s in your home country, and you should include their approval in your application.
Tertiary students who hold the Study Visa are allowed to work for not more than 20 hours per week on a part-time basis. The Study Visa is usually valid only for the duration of your studies.
Students who are studying on a correspondence basis, without actually attending a venue in South Africa, cannot qualify for the Study Visa, even if the institution is based in South Africa. There are no circumstances under which you may apply for Permanent Residence on the basis of holding the Study Visa.
Academic sabbatical and research
In cases where an individual wishes to conduct research in South Africa, or take an academic sabbatical, they need to apply for an Extended Visitor’s Visa. This visa is valid for a maximum period of three years, and the applicant needs to meet a number of requirements. They must show proof that they are able to support themselves financially for the period of their stay in South Africa, or that they have an adequate sponsor. They should also provide some indication as to the nature of their proposed activity in the country, as well as documentary support from any organisation in South Africa with which they are affiliated.