Critical Skills Rejections: Candidate Status Not Good Enough

Critical Skills Rejections Candidate Status Not Good Enough


The Department of Home Affairs published a new Critical Skills list on 3 October 2023. You can find our update on it here.


We have noticed a practical challenge emerging from the Critical Skills List regarding the role of professional bodies. This was brought to our attention after receiving numerous calls from clients saying their Critical Skills Visa applications were being rejected. Upon investigation, we have identified a major technical issue with the Critical Skills application process.

Candidate Status: What is it?

For certain applicants their qualifications must be granted a “Candidate Status” by various professional bodies in their field, verifying their skills in their specific field. However, they are granted a “Candidate Status”, not a “Registered Status”. The “Candidate Status” is often granted after a screening and interview process. The “Registered Status” in many fields, require an applicant to have worked in South Africa.

For example, engineers applying for the Critical Skills Visa need their qualifications to be certified by ECSA, The Engineering Council of South Africa. However, ECSA can only grant candidate status, not fully registered status. Anyone applying to work in South Africa that has not yet worked in South Africa, makes them ineligible for a “Registered Status”.

This then leads to their Critical Skills Visa application to be rejected, since the Department of Home Affairs now requires full registration for certain job categories.

Why does the Department of Home Affairs now require Registered Status?

Previously, the Department of Home Affairs has always accepted the “Candidate Status”. But, with this change, professional bodies cannot grant full “Registered Status” required by the Department of Home Affairs since the applicant has no work experience in South Africa. This change in regulations was not, to our knowledge, ever officially announced.

What does the Department of Home Affairs need to change?

If this change continues to be in effect, many sections of the Critical Skills List will remain undermined and make it near-impossible for certain skilled foreigners to apply.

Our message to The Department of Home Affairs

Certain professional bodies CANNOT grant applicants more than “Candidate Status”. If the Department of Home Affairs is not aware of that, it would explain this error in the list requirements. Something here needs to change on the side of the Department of Home Affairs; more clarity needs to be provided, or requirements for acceptance needs to change.

If changes are not made, the Critical Skills Visa is in great danger of just automatically rejecting foreigners.

What can be done to solve this? Our plea to you

If you have any voice in this matter: use it! We have seen public pressure and opinion fix previous issues regarding immigration law (for example, the Decentralisation of Visa Processing). If you can share, share. Make sure our voices are heard regarding this issue, since it is imperative that changes are made, and soon.

Written by Andreas Krensel

Edited by Simon Carletti

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