Work Permit – South Africa
As a country with a growing economy and a developing manufacturing sector, South Africa requires a large number of skilled workers in various positions. For this reason, many foreigners are employed in South Africa. Any person who is not a citizen of South Africa and who wishes to work in the country needs to apply for a Work Permit.
The different types of work permit
There are various types of Work Permit that may be issued, depending on the situation of the applicant. These types have been listed below.
General Work Permit
The general Work Permit is the most common type. In order to obtain this type of permit, the following requirements have to be met. Firstly, the employing company has to show documentary proof that they have tried to employ a South African citizen. This usually means that they have to advertise the position in the local media. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent jobs being denied to South African citizens, and so the employer has to provide substantial proof that the position cannot be filled by a South African citizen. Secondly, proof has to be submitted of the applicant’s qualifications and/or experience, and their qualifications have to be checked by the relevant South African authority.
Exceptional skills permit
There are some skills and qualifications which are regarded as exceptional by the South African government. A person who has such skills and/or qualifications may obtain an Exceptional Skills Work Permit. In order to obtain this permit, the applicant does not have to secure a specific position of employment at the time of application. The legislation does not specify what qualifies as exceptional, but a relevant South African organisation needs to confirm the applicant’s skills and/or qualifications in writing. The Exceptional Skills Work Permit is valid for a maximum period of three years, and extension is possible.
If you have a doctorate in a specific field, and have published articles and/or are considered an expert in a field, this can aid your application.
See the full quota list here.
In order to address the needs of the South African economy, the Quota Work Permit is granted to a specific number of foreigners who have necessary qualifications and/or a prescribed number of years of work experience. In order to obtain this permit, the employer does not have to advertise the position, since it is not expected that any South African citizens will be able to fill the position. The applicant’s qualifications must be inspected by the relevant South African authority. In order to obtain the permit, the applicant does not need to show an employment contract or job offer at the time of application, since this can be done within 90 days of the permit being issued.
In today’s globalised world it often happens that people who work for multinational companies are transferred between countries. Where a person has been transferred into South Africa, they need to apply for the Intra-Company Transfer Permit. This type of permit is only valid for two years, and no extension is possible.
A Corporate Work Permit is not issued to an individual, but to an employing company, and allows that company to employ a number of foreign workers. To read more about the Corporate Permit, go to the section on the Corporate Permit.
Work permits are not as complex as they seem, and unfortunately this is not realized by most companies. If you have a prospective job offer and are stuck with your future employer on this point, offer to organize an immigration consultant to call or meet with them. They can allay any fears that the company may have.
Usually companies are short-sighted, wanting only to employ someone who can start within one month’s time and who they can meet immediately. Be patient when dealing with a possible employer and explain to them the details of your proposed permit.
Lastly, superb recruitment advice is that you actually visit and attend some interviews South Africa before immigrating here. Although an extra expense, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far.
It is possible to apply for Permanent Residence on the basis of holding a Work Permit. Anyone who has held a General Work Permit for a period of five years may apply for Permanent Residence. Holders of an Exceptional Skills Work Permit may also apply. It is very much to the applicant’s advantage to be in possession of a contract of permanent employment, or an offer of permanent employment, at the time of application.