Critical Skills List Updated for Medical Fields

Access the new Critical Skills List for South Africa on our Critical Skills Overview Page, here.

The Department of Home Affairs has published an update to the Critical Skills List, effective 2 August 2022 (note that a version published on 1 August 2022 was missing page 20). Corrections and minor changes are included, as well as substantial and welcome changes in the medical field.

Major Additions

Compared to the new Critical Skills List published in February 2022, 39 occupations have been added to the Critical Skills List from page 15 onwards.

The updated Critical Skills List provides a general description of “specialist medical practitioners” as well as listing the individual specialisations that will now qualify for a Critical Skills Visa. At a high level, the following new occupations have been included:

  •         Specialist Dentists
  •         Specialist Medical Practitioners (a wide range of specializations)
  •         Diagnostic Radiology
  •         Pathology
  •         Psychiatry
  •         Surgery
  •         Registered Nurses (a wide range of specializations)
  •         Industrial Pharmacist

For the newly added occupations, the updated Critical Skills List provides specific indications with regards to the Minimum Qualification required, but interestingly does not directly prescribe an NQF level, as with the other occupations.

With regards to the Professional Body Registration, the updated portion of the list prescribes the Health Professions Council together with an active registration with the overseas Regulatory Body of the foreigner, for their particular field for medical practitioners.

For the nursing professions, the general rule of any Relevant Professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA as contemplated in Regulation 18(5)(b), although there is a reference to SANC – the South African Nursing Council, which would indeed appear to be the most applicable entity in most cases.

Altogether these major additions are a welcome sign in a country that is facing a health care professionals shortage, even though some research into the process of the February Critical Skills List had indicated otherwise. An open question is whether current medical students will benefit from this updated Critical Skills List, given that it pertains to specialist practitioners only.

Minor Changes

There are two minor changes to the updated Critical Skills List.

Firstly, the category of Nurse Educator (the only health care category previously already on the list) has been amended to Specialist Nurse Educator in line with the focus on specialists in the new additions.

Secondly, the OFO Codes have been amended to reflect the 2021 coding rather than the 2019 codes, thereby aligning the Critical Skills List with the current version of the OFO.

Lastly, the updated Critical Skills List has removed any reference to a specific Professional body, council or board for those occupations as per the February List (1 – 101), which had specifically mentioned some Professional bodies, such as ECSA for Engineering occupations or ASSA for Actuaries. While the practical choice and availability may still be limited, at least now in principle, there is a freedom of choice for applicants and room for competitiveness between professional bodies in attracting talent.

Corrections

The updated Critical Skills List also has one correction, whereby the last column no longer refers to a statutory professional body and also now refers to the correct Immigration Regulations, which had already been clarified by Home Affairs as being an error on the February List.

Conclusion

In conclusion, health care professionals that had seen the publication of the new list with some shock and uncertainty around their future are likely to breathe a sigh of relief at the updated Critical Skills List from 2 August 2022, but will unfortunately face the same practical challenges of long SAQA and visa processing times as other Critical Skills applicants.

Written by: Hannah Mminele

Edited by: Simon Carletti

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