Work Permits for South Africa
Expats will need a work permit for South Africa if they want to take up employment there. But getting one isn’t always a consistent process and the sense of disarray has been intensified by the recent introduction of new immigration laws.
Under the new regulations, work permits are now officially known as work visas and allow the bearer to enter, stay and work in the country.
The main consideration for work visas is still that a South African citizen must not be qualified to perform the task in question at the same capacity as the applicant.
The documentation required to prove this is a grey area that partially depends on the personal discretion of officials. In this way, patience and persistence are highly advised for expats who don't have an employer organising their permit for them.
There are several visas for expats wanting to work in South Africa, including the general work visa, critical skills visa and the intra-company transfer.
Either way, the first time expats apply for a visa it has to be at a South African mission outside of the country – it isn’t possible to change from a visit to a work visa after arriving in South Africa anymore.
General work visas for South Africa
Regardless of the type of work visa, prospective employers have to prove that they were unable to find a South African citizen or permanent resident for the expat’s position.
Linked to this, expat employees have to provide proof that they have the necessary qualifications or skills needed for the job. Expat employees are also not allowed to earn less than the average salary and benefits earned by citizens and permanent residents in similar positions.
General work visas are issued for a maximum of five years.
Critical skills visas for South Africa
The South African Critical Skills Visa enables foreigners working within certain fields to enter the country regardless of whether they have an employment offer.
The visa replaces the Exceptional Skills Permit and Quota Work Permit but applicants will only qualify for it if their occupation is on the South African skills shortage list.
As is the case with general work visas, critical skills visas can only be issued for five years or less. The main sectors identified by the critical skills list include agriculture, architecture, specialised financial jobs, information and communications technology, science and the medical field.
One benefit of the Critical Skills Visa is that the holder’s spouse and dependents will each be provided with an appropriate visa valid for the same period as the main holder’s visa.
Intra-company transfer visas for South Africa
International businesses often use these kinds of visas for transferring personnel between branches in different countries. However, only employees who have been at the applying company for six months or more will be considered. The Intra-company Transfer Visa can be eligible for up to four years.