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Work Permit

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South Africa

South Africa Work Permits and Visas

Updated on:
16 Jan, 2024
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Building a remote team?

Employ exceptional talent, anywhere, anytime!

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Globally expanding companies may consider hiring remote workers who live in South Africa or workers who are traveling or planning to move there. Employees need some type of South Africa work permit to be able to work in the country legally.

This article will outline:

  • Types of South Africa work visas
  • South Africa immigration laws
  • South Africa visa requirements
  • How to apply for South Africa work visas

Additionally, you’ll learn how to employ remote employees and independent contractors without needing to establish a local legal entity in South Africa with the help of an employer of record such as Skuad.

An employer of record can help you onboard remote workers, process payroll, assist in work permit applications, and provide your company with everything else you need to build your globally distributed teams.

Types of South Africa work visa and permits

Many employees and digital nomads are moving to countries to take advantage of their remote work visas. South Africa work visas, which were formerly called South Africa work permits, are visas that allow employees who are citizens from other nations to enter South Africa to live and work for a certain duration.

Of the many types of visas available in South Africa, certain visas relevant to remote employment in South Africa include:

  • General Work Visa
  • Critical Skills Work Visa
  • Business Visa
  • Corporate Visa

The above visas are types of temporary residence visas allowing visitors to enter the country and take part in activities such as working, starting a business, or investing in a business. Applications are processed by Visa Facilitation Services Centers (VFS) in South Africa or at a South African embassy abroad. Each of these visas has a certain duration, requirements, and application processes as outlined in the following sections.

General Work Visa

A General Work Visa is a general visa for employees looking to work in South Africa. This is the work visa most employees would apply for if they do not qualify for the Critical Skills Work Visa.

A General Work Visa holder must submit satisfactory proof to the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs that they are still employed. This proof must be submitted within six months of issuance of the visa and every year. Proof of the terms and conditions of the job must also be submitted.

The duration of the General Work Visa is the duration of the employment contract. The maximum duration of the visa is five years.

Critical Skills Work Visa

A Critical Skills Work Visa is a visa that allows foreign nationals with skills for jobs that are in short supply in the country to enter the country and work.

The government has published a critical skills list for occupations and skills that are high in demand in South Africa concerning applications for Critical Skills Visas or applications for permanent residence status.

Among the numerous skills listed, some examples of highly-skilled occupations include:

  • Corporate general manager
  • Quality systems manager
  • Engineering manager
  • Chief information officer
  • Data management manager
  • Electronics engineer
  • Software Developer
  • Data scientist
  • Developer programmer

The duration of the Critical Skills Work Visa is for the duration of the employment contract, not exceeding five years.

Business Visa

A Business Visa is a visa for foreigners who will invest in the South African economy by starting a business or investing in an existing business in South Africa.

There are prescribed financial capital requirements except for the following industries:

  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Chemicals and biotechnology
  • Agro-processing
  • Clothing and textile manufacturing
  • Metals and minerals refinement
  • Tourism
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Crafts

The duration of the Business Visa is three to five years.

Corporate Visa

A Corporate Visa allows a corporate entity to employ a determined number of skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled workers. Employers receive authorization certificates for each employee they may hire.

After the company hires the employees, the company can issue each worker a Corporate Visa. Employees then apply for Corporate Worker certificates. The maximum duration of the Corporate Visa is three years as is the duration of the Corporate Worker certificates.

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South African work visa requirements

If your company is internationally expanding and hiring employees in South Africa and elsewhere, you’ll need to be able to comply with local immigration laws, including the following South Africa visa requirements.

General Work Visa

To be eligible for a General Work Visa:

  • Applicants for this visa must already have a job offer in the country.
  • Employers must prove that no South African candidates are available to fill the position.
  • Employees must prove qualifications.
  • The salary must not be less than the minimum wage.

Certain documents are required to apply for a General Work Visa, including:

  • Application form
  • Valid passport
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Medical certificate
  • A written letter from the employer indicating that the employee’s passport is valid for the duration of the employment contract

Critical Skills Work Visa

To be eligible for a Critical Skills Work Visa, employees must have a skill that is on the list of critical skills. The specific requirements for each occupation are included on the critical skills list. For example, the occupations on the list require a certain level of education, diplomas, or certificates, depending on the occupation.

Certain documents are required to apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa, including:

  • Application form
  • Valid passport
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Medical certificate
  • A written letter from the employer indicating that the employee’s passport is valid for the duration of the employment contract
  • Proof of the applicant’s qualifications for their skilled position
  • Proof of evaluation of the qualifications of the applicant by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • If required by law, proof of registration with any professional body relevant to the applicant’s position
  • A confirmation from the professional body or government department that the applicant possesses the required skills needed for the job

Business Visa

To be eligible for a Business Visa:

  • Investors must invest a certain amount of capital except for a select few industries.
  • At the companies being invested in, the staff must consist of at least 60% South African citizens or permanent residents.
  • Companies must register with the South African Revenue Service and at other government departments where legally required.
  • Investors must provide police clearance from every country where they have resided since the age of 18.
  • A letter of recommendation must be provided from the Department of Trade and Industry regarding the financial feasibility of the company and its contribution to the national interests of South Africa.
  • If investing in existing businesses, financial statements for the preceding fiscal year are required.

Certain documents are required to apply for a Business Visa, including:

  • Completed online form
  • Valid passport
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Medical report
  • An accountant’s certificate that the amount of capital required is available
  • Proof that at least 60% of the company's employees are South Africans
  • Proof of registration with the South African Revenue Service
  • Proof of registration with the Unemployment Insurance Fund
  • Proof of registration with the Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries and Diseases
  • Proof of registration with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), where required
  • Proof of payment of fees

Corporate Visa

For a company to receive a Corporate Visa:

  • An application must be submitted online.
  • Corporate entities must submit proof that there is a need for the requested number of foreign employees.
  • Employers can hire workers after the Department of Home Affairs of South Africa (DHA) issues authorization certificates.

Certain documents are required to apply for a Corporate Visa. These documents include:

  • Proof of the need to employ the requested number of foreign employees
  • A certificate from the Department of Labor confirming that no suitable South Africans can be found to fill the positions and that the salary for the position is not less than the average salary for similar roles in South Africa
  • Proof of registration with the South African Revenue Service
  • Proof of registration with the Unemployment Insurance Fund
  • Proof of registration with the Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries and Diseases
  • Proof of registration with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), where required
  • Proof of payment of fees

How to apply for a South Africa work visa and permits

The process of applying for South Africa work visas varies depending on the specific work visa you are seeking. For most South Africa visa applications, forms can be filled in and submitted along with supporting documentation either online, or at a VFS center, embassy, or consulate in the applicant’s home country.

As of 2021, applications for a Corporate Visa must be submitted online. The DHA will issue the company a Corporate Visa and authorization certificate for each employee hired up to the maximum number of employees allowed. The company can then hire the employees after it has received the authorization certificates.

Once hired, employees apply for Corporate worker certificates. The duration of the Corporate Worker certificate is the same as the Corporate Visa, which cannot exceed three years.

Some employees may want to permanently relocate to South Africa. Employees can apply for permanent residence. To do so, employees would need:

  • To have worked in South Africa for at least five years
  • A permanent work offer
  • Exceptional skills and qualifications
  • Financial independence

Application processing time

Applications for the Critical Skills Work Visa and the General Work Visa are processed individually and the time frames vary. Permanent residence applications are finalized between 12 months and 24 months.

Planning to hire or work in South Africa? Here’s how Skuad can help

Skuad can help your company hire a remote team in South Africa. Normally, before hiring internationally, you would need to establish a legal entity in the countries you hire in. But when working with an employer of record, your business won't have to invest the considerable time and money necessary to set up a local legal entity in South Africa.

Beyond South Africa, Skuad can help your company expand internationally in any of the other nations we can help you hire in. Skuad can help you hire in more than 160 countries and pay your employees in more than 100 local currencies because it has legal entities in all of those countries.

Skuad can be your employer of record and help you hire internationally so you can concentrate on your company’s core business strategies. Contact us today for a demo.

FAQs

How can I get a work permit in South Africa?

Citizens of foreign countries need a South Africa work visa, formerly known as a South Africa work permit, to enter the country of South Africa and work there legally.

You can apply online for a General Work Visa or a Critical Skills Work Visa.

Do you need a work permit to work in South Africa?

If you are a citizen of South Africa, you do not need a work permit to work in South Africa. However, if you have citizenship in any other country, you will need a work visa to live and work in South Africa.

How much is a work permit in South Africa?

There are certain fees you’ll have to pay for work visas in South Africa, depending on the visa.

Work visas require the following fees to be paid when applying, in South African rands:

  • General Work Visa: R1520 for the DHA application fee; R1550 for the VFS service fee; R500 for the Premium Lounge.
  • Critical Skills Work Visa: R1520 for the DHA application fee; R1550 for the VFS service fee; R500 for the Premium Lounge.
  • Business Visa: R1520 for the DHA application fee; R1550 for the VFS service fee; R500 for the Premium Lounge.
  • Corporate Visa (Employer): R1520 for the DHA application fee; R1550 for the VFS service fee
  • Corporate Visa (Employee): R1550 for the VFS service fee

How long does a work permit take in South Africa?

Applications for the Critical Skills Work Visa and the General Work Visa are processed individually and the time frames vary.

Can a foreigner work in South Africa without a work permit?

No. A foreigner wishing to enter South Africa and find employment must have a work permit to be able to work in the country legally.

Employ contractors and employees in 160+ countries

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Table of Content

Building a remote team?

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