The South African Business Visa is a necessary requirement for Foreign Business Investors that want to be part of the day to day operations of their business. The business visa permits you to establish or invest in a business in South Africa and can also allow you to immigrate to South Africa, should you choose.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is responsible for providing recommendations for business visas and will likely be the decision-maker for most applications.
In order to qualify for a South African business visa, you need to fulfil two main criteria.
- You must invest ZAR 5 million as a foreign direct investment.
- You must have at least a 60% local employment rating
If you cannot invest ZAR 5 million or your business idea requires less than the ZAR 5 million capital requirement, you still have the opportunity to apply for a Business Visa. Every business visa application, requires a DTI recommendation. If you apply with less than ZAR 5 million, and the DTI recommends your application, you will have to apply for a waiver following their recommendation.
The DTI application process takes roughly 45 working days.
There are a number of requirements for completing a DTI application, with one of the most important documents being a Chartered Account Certificate.
A South African Chartered Accountant must confirm either the existence of ZAR 5 million (or less) in the applicant’s overseas account or that the money has already been transferred to South Africa.
Either way, proof of funds is necessary, and it must be a foreign direct investment.
Unfortunately, third-party investments are not recognised and if the money comes from a business overseas, the applicant needs to show that he/she is the shareholder of the company. If the investment is indeed for an existing business, you will need to provide financial statements for the preceding financial year as well.
Once you have a CA certificate, you need to cover a variety of topics within the application. These include:
- Personal details about the applicant
- Description of the business (location, contact details, etc.)
- The expertise of the applicant (qualifications, work experience and applicable entrepreneurial expertise)
- Competitive advantage
- Management and employees (organisational chart optional)
- Financial projections
- Contribution to the national interest
- Feasibility of the business
The final contribution to the application is proof that:
- At least 60% of staff are SA citizens or PR holders
- You’ve registered with the South African Revenue Service
- You’ve registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund
- You’ve registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC)
In South Africa, the DTI’s decision-making process is influenced by both internal and external factors. This can refer to the factors that reflect both you and your business as a whole and the effect you both will have on South Africa, and also the social, environmental, and governmental factors that affect all sectors in South Africa.
The DTI’s goals and decision-making are aligned with the broader economic goals of South Africa, and if your business plan doesn’t align with that, your application may not come back positively. These goals can include inclusive economic growth, job creation opportunities, and reducing poverty and inequality.
The DTI also has to consider the potential trade and investment opportunities that could come with providing you with a business visa. Does your business attract sufficient foreign investment? Does your business enhance or support local industries and sectors? Do your business’s ventures support global and local economic trends? All these questions and more will be posed and answered by the DTI about your application.
Two of the more important factors are concerning both legal and regulatory frameworks and government policies. Since the DTI is a government department, they operate within the legal and regulatory framework of South Africa and must adhere to all the relevant government policies of South Africa.
One of, if not the most important thing to keep in mind while applying through the DTI, is to ensure you are consistently accurate with your information.
Besides that, there are some additional elements to include in your application, that would greatly increase your chances of a successful DTI recommendation.
Firstly, if you are investing in an existing business, showcase how your business has been contributing to the South African economy, or the national interest, over the years. Try showing how feasible it would be as well for your business to continue to operate over the years, with relevant financial statements.
If you are investing in a new business, showcase how you predict that your business will be contributing to the South African economy.
You should also make sure that you are successfully employing (or planning to employ) local South African citizens or Permanent Residence holders as employees.
The minimum requirement is 60%.
Make sure as well that your statutory registrations are up to date, and that you have financial statements of the preceding year readily available (where applicable).
For Renewals: Submit all the documents timeously, well before your visas are set to expire, and the DTI will almost certainly grant you the recommendation you need.
The business visa application process is an inherently time-consuming task and will require determination and responsibility on your end.
Managing submission timeously and accurately, is very important and puts you well on your way to acquiring the much sought-after business visa you desire, for South Africa.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor