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South Africa is one of the biggest key players in the economic boom that Africa is undergoing. As African countries modernise and grow, there is a rising demand for skilled talent that continues to rise, and countries like South Africa have come to realise that these talents could be imported as well. The South Africa Critical Skills Work Visa is your key to working and settling in South Africa. 

  • One of the most sought-after countries in the world, for work or leisure, South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in its economic and cultural profile recently, more specifically in the past two decades. It also has a thriving expat community with communities from the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and other African states calling it home. 
  • A Critical Skills Visa is a unique type of work authorisation from the government that provides opportunities for professionals whose skills have been identified as critical or in great shortage in South Africa. As one who may qualify as a professional in agriculture or engineering, a Critical Skills Work Visa will give you freedom and multiple opportunities to move up in your professional career as well as to improve your livelihood and stay in SA. 
  • The South Africa Critical Skills Work Visa is aimed at skilled professionals whose occupation is on the Critical Skills List. It allows workers holding this visa to visit South Africa and search for a job. Once the applicant has found a job, he or she can then convert it to a work permit.
  • The critical skill visa was launched in 2014 and replaced the former exceptional skills and quota work visas. It is a work visa that does not only benefit expats the receive them but also the South African economy.

In fact, the top goal of the critical skill visa is to assist the South African Department of Trade and Industry in achieving the objectives of programs like:

  • The National Development Plan(NDP) – aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.
  • The Industrial Policy Action Plan(IPAP) – The NIPF sets out the government’s broad approach to industrialisation in the context of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGI-SA) and its targets of halving unemployment and poverty by 2014 through accelerated growth of at least 6 percent from 2010.
  • The New Growth Plan(NGP) – The New Growth Path proposes major improvements in government, with a call for slashing unnecessary red tape, improving competition in the economy, and stepping up skills development. The role of government departments and agencies in meeting set targets for scarce and key skills is critical.

Under the CSWV system, foreigners who possess exceptional skills or qualifications that are scarce in South Africa will be allowed to move to the country and work. The occupations and skills that are in high demand were identified by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).


  • A key benefit of having a critical skill is that one is immediately eligible to apply for permanent residency if one has a permanent employment offer.
  • A CSWV can be issued to an applicant for a period of up to 5 years. The actual validity will depend on the applicant’s specific circumstances. If the applicant has not already secured a job and no offer of employment has been made, the CSWV will be valid for no longer than 1 year.
  • Critical skill visas allow the holder to add their spouse and dependent children to the permit. The applicant’s family members will be allowed into South Africa for as long as the CSWV remains valid.
  • The critical skills visa for South Africa can be renewed provided that all requirements for renewal are met. Foreign nationals wishing to renew their visa must pay the relevant fee.

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By Christian Mpazayabo