How to Apply for a Business Visa for South Africa

How to Apply for a Business Visa for South Africa A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re thinking of establishing a business or investing in one in South Africa, here’s what you need to know:

Understanding the Business Visa

Unlike some countries that offer investor visas based on property ownership, you cannot apply for a Business or Investor visa in South Africa based on the fact that you are buying a property.

South Africa’s business visa has two particular requirements:

  • Investment: A foreign direct investment of 5 million Rand into a new or existing business in South Africa.
  • Employment: Employment of 60% local personnel, including South African citizens and Permanent Residence (PR) holders.

Step-by-step Application Process

Getting a Recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

To kick off the process, you’ll need a positive recommendation from the DTI.

DTI Application Details:

Submission Mode: Online

Processing Time: Approximately 45 working days.

Requirements: This application is akin to a mini-business plan. It encompasses topics stipulated by the DTI, including a certificate from a South African Chartered Accountant verifying the investment sum and more.

Documents Required for DTI Application:

Chartered Accountant certificate confirming the investment sum.

Detailed account about the applicant and business (personal info, business expertise, business description, services, market, competitive edge, management, financial projections, etc.).

Proof (or undertakings) of staff composition (60% SA citizens or PR holders).

Registration proofs (or undertakings): South African Revenue Service, Unemployment Insurance Fund, and Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC).

If investing in an existing business, present its financial statements of the previous year.

Any other relevant documentation (partnership agreements, previous DTI recommendations, etc.).

Waiver Application (If Applicable)

If you’re investing less than the 5 million Rand threshold but still secure a positive DTI recommendation, you must request a waiver in order to waive the R5 million capital requirement.

Waiver Application Insights

  • Applications can be made at a South African mission abroad or through VFS in South Africa.
  • Only certain industries qualify for waivers.
  • While waivers for investments as low as R 100,000 have been approved, a minimum of 2.5 million Rand is recommended for better chances.
  • Note: Waiver applications can be time-consuming, in recent times taking well over a year.
    Investing the standard 5 million Rand can circumvent this step, saving time.

Business Visa Application

After securing the DTI recommendation (and a waiver if required), you can proceed with the Business Visa application.

Application Details:

Place of Submission: At the South African mission in your country or within South Africa (under specific visa conditions).

Processing Time: Typically, 8-12 weeks.

Validity: Up to three years. Investment proof needed within the first two years.

Required Documents:

  • Passport and passport photos.
  • Police clearance certificates.
  • Medical reports.
  • Residential address proofs in South Africa.
  • Business plan and Chartered Accountant certificate.
  • DTI recommendation
  • Waiver (if applicable)
  • Flight reservations and related travel proofs.
  • Family members, including spouses and children, can apply alongside the primary applicant.

Permanent Residency for Business Visa Applicants

Business visa holders can also apply for Permanent Residency. The application process is similar to that of the business visa, including a DTI application (and waiver if applicable).

Key Points

  • A DTI site visit is mandatory.
  • Investments must already be made, and the business should be operational.
  • The invested sum should remain in the business for a minimum of two more years after receiving Permanent Residency.
  • Family members, including long-term spouses and children, can apply for Permanent Residency alongside the primary applicant.

Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor

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