Post Study Options: How to Get a Work Visa in South Africa After Studies

Post Study Options: How to Get a Work Visa in South Africa After Studies

South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is a melting pot of culturally, linguistically, racially and religiously diverse people. Living in South Africa can offer foreign nationals a unique experience sampling a diverse and rich culture. 

South Africa is a stunning place of natural beauty, and many foreign nationals visit the country looking to enjoy the outdoor attractions and relaxed lifestyle. 

While most people think of Safari and wild animals when they think of Africa, there is much more to living in South Africa. The cities in South Africa are not unlike other cities around the world with sprawling skyscrapers, cosmopolitan dining and bar areas and shopping malls.  However, those who are in search of a taste of the wild will not have to venture too far to find it. Depending on where you are staying, just a few hour’s drive will take you to natural reserves that are abundant with all manner of wildlife.

Since the higher educational reform in 2004, universities have been consistently keeping up with the increasingly high standards for higher education systems. In fact, more than 45,000 international students choose to study in South Africa each academic year.

South Africa is one of the main economic powerhouses in Africa. In 2014, South African’s immigration policy was updated to retain skilled international students to fill in the gaps left by the locals who left the country to work overseas. Sectors in finance, medicine and engineering welcome foreign nationals to work in their companies.

Students studying overseas usually face a difficult choice before graduation. The dilemma of staying in the host country to work or going back to their home country is always a tough decision to make. So before you make your choice, let’s explore your options if you want to stay in South Africa after completing your studies.

If South Africa is not for you, read our other blog posts on post-study options to know how to get a work visa for the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or countries in Europe or Asia!

Work Visa 

International students who graduated from a South African university can live and stay in the country after graduation by getting a work visa.

Work visas are issued only to foreign nationals where South African citizens with the relevant skills are not available for appointment. These visas are issued for a set duration which varies on the type of work visa being applied for. 

General Work Visa 

A general work visa allows a foreign national to work and reside in South Africa for a specific employer in any position that cannot be filled by a South African citizen or permanent resident. You should have a job offer to qualify for this visa.

The employer must show that no suitably qualified local candidates could be found to fill the position in order for the foreign national to be granted permission to work in South Africa.

General Work Visas are valid for the duration of the contract of employment or a period not exceeding 5 years.

To apply, you must prepare the following:

  • A duly completed application form signed by yourself, the applicant
  • A valid passport valid 
  • A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act 
  • Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses in the Republic until the applicant receives a salary. (bank statements, cash available or travellers’ cheque
  • Medical and radiology reports 
  • A police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years
  • A written undertaking by the employer accepting responsibility for the costs related to the deportation of the applicant and his/ her dependent family members, should it become necessary. 
  • An application for a general work visa shall be accompanied by:
    • A certificate from the Department of Labour 
    • Proof of qualifications evaluated by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic
    • A contract of employment signed by both yourself and the employer.
    • Full particulars of the employer including proof of registration with the Registrar of Companies
    • An undertaking by the employer to inform the Director-General upon the employee no longer being in the employ of such employer or when employed in a different capacity or role.
    • All required documentation for a spouse and/or children if they intend to accompany you 

Critical Skills Work Visa 

A foreign national would qualify for a critical skills work visa if their profession is listed on the critical skills list and they have the necessary qualifications and experience confirmed by the relevant accredited professional body, council or board and recognised by SAQA. 

Critical skills work visa is issued to a foreign national who works within a specific profession deemed to be critical in South Africa. 

Critical Skills Work Visas are issued for a period not exceeding 5 years.

To apply one you must submit the following:

  • A duly completed application form
  • A valid passport valid 
  • A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act. 
  • Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses in the Republic until the applicant receives a salary. (bank statements, cash available or travellers’ cheque
  • Medical and radiology reports
  • A police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years 
  • Proof of application for a certificate of registration with the accredited professional body, council or board recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). 
  • Proof of evaluation of the foreign qualification/s by SAQA translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the Republic. 
  • Proof of employment within 12 months after obtaining a Critical skills work visa in the form of an employment contract specifying the occupation and capacity in which the foreigner shall be employed. 

Business Visa 

Foreign nationals who wish to invest into an existing business or a new business can apply for this visa. It affords entrepreneurs the opportunity to stay in South Africa and to run their own business. You should 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.

If you are contemplating investing in the South African economy by establishing a business or by investing in an existing business in the country you must apply for a business visa. You will be required to invest a prescribed financial capital contribution.

To invest in or open a business in South Africa you will need to, along with Form BI-1738, submit a certificate issued by a chartered accountant registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to the effect that you have:

  • At least an amount in cash to be invested in the Republic as determined from time to time by the Minister, after consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry or 
  • At least an amount in cash and a capital contribution as determined from time to time by the Minister, is available. 
  • An undertaking by the applicant that at least 60% of the total staff complement to be employed in the operations shall be South African Citizens or permanent residents, permanently employed in various positions. 
  • An undertaking to register with: 
    • The South African Revenue Service 
    • Unemployment Insurance Fund 
    • Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries 
    • Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission, where legally required and 
    • Relevant professional body, board or council recognized by SAQA, where applicable. 
  • A police clearance certificate from each country where you resided since the age of 18 years, including the Republic of South Africa 
A letter of recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry regarding – 
    • the feasibility of the business 
    • and the contribution to the national interest of the Republic. 
  • A yellow fever vaccination certificate if you have travelled or intend travelling through a yellow fever endemic area 
Medical and radiology reports 

The capital requirements above may be reduced or waived in respect of the following types of industries/businesses: 

  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Clothing and textile manufacturing
  • Chemicals and bio-technology
  • Agro-processing metals and minerals refinement
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Tourism crafts 

Business Visa applications made for existing businesses require the following documents (in addition to all those listed above) to be submitted with the temporary residence application form: 

  • Financial statements for the preceding financial year 
  • The contribution to the national interest of the Republic 

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.

Permanent Residence Permit in South Africa

South Africa welcomes immigrants who are in a position to make a meaningful contribution to broadening the economic base of South Africa.

Before you can apply for a permanent residency permit, you must check the basis of your application. In order to make an application for a permanent residency permit, you must first submit representation to the Minister of Home Affairs motivating why you should be declared not to be a prohibited person or an undesirable person.

You may be considered a prohibited person if:

  • You are infected with infectious diseases that can spread easily. These diseases include cholera; pestilence, yellow fever and any other diseases as determined by the Department of Health from time to time
  • You have a warrant of arrest against you or a conviction for genocide, torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, terrorism, or murder secured in South Africa or any country with which South Africa has regular diplomatic relations
  • You are a member or supporter of an organisation practising racial hatred or social violence
  • You are a member of an organisation using crime or terrorism to reach its goals
  • You have previously been deported and have not been rehabilitated by the Department in the prescribed manner.

You may be deemed to be an undesirable person if:

  • you are or are likely to become a public charge
  • you are identified by the Minister (after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board as undesirable o you have been judicially declared incompetent
  • you are an unrehabilitated insolvent
  • you are a fugitive from justice
  • you have a previous criminal conviction without the option of a fine for conduct that would be an offence in South Africa (with the exclusion of certain prescribed offences).

Direct Residence Permit

This permit is for foreign nationals who have been residing in South Africa on the basis of their work permit for at least five years and their spouse, as well as dependents of South African citizens/permanent residence permit holders.

To apply for a direct residency permit you need to complete Form DHA-947 online via VFS GLOBAL.

Check the website for the South African Department of Home Affairs for required documents for:

  • dependent of a South African Citizen or Permanent Residence Holder (under 18 years)
  • dependent of a South African Citizen
  • spouse married for a minimum of 5 years
  • worker with 5 years continuous work permit status

Residency-on-other-grounds permits

This category of permits applies to foreign nationals who:

  • are in possession of a permanent work offer in South Africa
  • have exceptional skills and qualifications
  • intend to establish a business in South Africa
  • are financially independent

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Duly completed complete Form BI-947
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • A marriage certificate/proof of spousal relationship, if applicable
  • A divorce decree/proof of legal separation, if applicable
  • Proof of custody of a minor, if applicable
  • A death certificate for a late spouse, if applicable
  • The consent of parents in the case of minors
  • Proof of judicial adoption of a minor, if applicable
  • Police clearance certificates for all countries in which you resided for a period of one year or longer since your 18th birthday
  • A valid temporary residency permit (if already in South Africa)

Naturalised Citizenship

You can apply for South African citizenship through naturalisation if you have held a permanent residence permit for at least 5 years. 

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • DHA -175 (application form)
  • DHA -529 (applicant form)
  • Proof of continuous residence 1 year prior to application
  • RSA Police report valid for six (6) months from the date of issue
  • Police clearance from country or countries of present nationalities
  • Letter confirming acceptance of dual nationality
  • Proof of payment (R300.00) as per regulated by the National Treasury

All supporting documents must be attached to enable easy reference to an application. All offices, including embassies, must ensure that office stamps and sign off are adequately done on each application submitted.

IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries

What are your thoughts on the Post Study Options in South Africa? Is there anything we missed or anything you need clarification on? Comment below.

If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

Charlie

 

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