Obtaining a work visa in Africa involves several steps and requirements. The process itself can be complex and it is often recommended to take one’s time during the application process and seek professional help where applicable.
This article will delve into the finer details of South Africa’s work visa process as an example of corporate African immigration, including eligibility criteria, required documentation, and the various application procedures.
If you as a foreigner plan on working in South Africa, you will require a work visa. Here are some of the types of work visas you can apply for, namely:
This is the most common of the above visa types and it allows you to work for the duration of the work contract or for a period not exceeding five years.
What makes this visa somewhat difficult to obtain is the initial requirement for the employing company or employer to be able to provide sufficient proof that a South African cannot fill the position for which you are applying. This requires an extensive search to be done and a report to be filled, failure of which will allow them to offer the position to you, a foreigner.
The certificate or declaration from the Department of Labour that acts as proof that no qualified South African citizens can fill the position must be submitted alongside the rest of your documents during your application.
A critical skills work visa is valid for a maximum of five years and is only intended for those professionals that South Africa deems exceptional, i.e. among a list of professions high in demand in South Africa.
As mentioned above, you do not need to have a job at the time of your application, but you must find employment within 12 months of receiving your visa. You may also apply for permanent residency in South Africa once you’ve lived in the country for 5 years.
If your company is transferring you to South Africa for work, you qualify for an intra-company transfer work visa. You must, however, have already worked in the foreign office for at least 6 months before you will be eligible to apply to move to South Africa. The visa is only valid for four years and cannot be extended.
The work visa application process is relatively simple in theory but can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with multiple government departments.
First, you need to find a job in South Africa.
You also need to be sure of what type of visa you need. Once you’re aware of the type of visa, and you either have a job or are in the process of acquiring one, you can begin collecting the relevant documentation for the application process.
Then, you need to schedule an appointment for your application. Depending on your country of residence, you may need to apply to an embassy, consulate, or visa application centre.
Ensure you’ve set up your appointment as early as possible and keep in constant communication with your employer to make sure you have all the necessary documents for your application.
Your application may also require you to sit down for an interview, submit biometrics, and provide photos.
A work visa’s processing time is usually between 6-8 weeks but can obviously change significantly given certain circumstances.
There are a number of documents required for an application. These are:
- Completed and signed application form
- Can be found online
- A valid passport with two blank pages
- Must be valid for at least three months after you leave the country
- Proof of paid visa fee
- Proof of financial means
- Medical and radiology reports
- A valid police clearance certificate
- Must be obtained from every country where you lived for longer than 12 months
- A written statement from your employer
- It must state that they will cover all the required expenses related to you and your dependents moving to South Africa for work – if necessary.
- Certificate of yellow fever vaccination
- Not always required
- Additional documents for dependents
- Not always required
Among the basic required documents listed above, you may also be required to submit additional documents specific to the type of visa for which you’re applying. It is a good idea to do enough research pertaining to your specific visa and to consult professionals when stuck or confused.
A South African work visa can be extended and renewed, but the application must be sent 60 days prior to your current visa’s expiration date. You must of course meet all the previous requirements again and submit the extension whilst inside South Africa. You cannot receive an extension whilst outside the country, nor can you receive an extension for an intra-company transfer work visa, as that is only valid for four years.
Acquiring a South African work visa can be both a complex and time-consuming task, so it’s vital that you do adequate research, collect your relevant documents well ahead of the proposed time of application, and ensure that you have enough time in the event of something going wrong with your application.
Make sure you reach out and consult professionals as well during the process, as it can help tremendously to have someone with you every step of the way.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor