Take 5 minutes out of your day to watch IBN Immigration Solutions’ CEO and immigration expert, Andreas Krensel, as he explains what SAQA is, why it’s needed for foreigners applying for a Critical Skills Visa or General Work Visa in South Africa, and how IBN Immigration Solutions can assist you throughout this process.
What is SAQA and what do you need it for?
Hello everybody, in this video I would really like to tell you all the necessary steps you can do yourself, or through us, for a SAQA evaluation of your foreign degrees. So why do you need SAQA certificates, and for what do you need SAQA certificates? You will need a SAQA certificate if you want to apply for the Critical Skills Work Visa, or for the General Work Visa. The good news is the SAQA certificate does not lose validity, so once you have it, it’s valid forever.
What is SAQA? SAQA is a South African Qualifications Authority, and basically what they do is they take your foreign degree and transfer into a South African equivalent, We work on a level from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, 1 is the lowest and typically a Matric or A Levels would be a level 4 or 5, and then a Bachelor would be a level 7 or 8. A Master’s Degree usually is a level 8, sometimes a 9, and a PhD would be level 10. Okay, so that’s kind of the NQF level. So that’s what SAQA is doing.
What is the process and the steps required?
The first step is that we would create, with the client’s email, a profile on SAQA’s website. It’s an online profile, we type it in, but we will need the client’s email. We cannot use our own emails because third party providers are not allowed to register on the portal of SAQA. The next step is that we upload all the documents. What are these documents? Firstly, number one, is the consent form we will send that to you. You sign it and then we will upload that. Secondly, and most importantly, all your degrees, or at least the highest degree and the transcripts. The degree is simple, most people have that, but if you studied a long time ago, then the transcripts are a huge practical challenge.
What are transcripts? Transcripts are basically an overview of the subjects you took to get the degree, and that enables SAQA to see how long the degree was, which subjects were taken, and kind of get a feeling on what the degree contained? The transcripts are important, and in my practical experience, the biggest hurdle.
All this gets uploaded. Another practical piece of advice here: Usually once the uploaded the client (because we use the client’s email) gets a confirmation email that it’s uploaded. If you’re using Yahoo webmail – that doesn’t work. I do not want to know why, but there’s a huge problem with Yahoo emails and SAQA communication. So just be careful with that, and maybe use your Gmail one.
Delays to be expected from SAQA
Then what SAQA does is they look at the documents. Now, in the good old days, pre-COVID, this took two or three days to get a confirmation email that they received the documents, and they will start re-evaluating it. Now, this step alone takes 4 weeks, which is quite long.
Now, after they acknowledge that they received the documents, and that the documents are comprehensive and they have enough, they then reach out to the university, or universities, where you achieved these degrees. They will then wait for confirmation from the universities, confirming that you studied there and obtained the degree. Now, you can imagine if you’re coming from Europe or other destinations where data protection is rather high, it’s a bit of a problem that some organisations in Africa are emailing the university, asking for a confirmation of the degree.
While they (SAQA) have attached to constant form, that doesn’t always help. What we in practice do is give advice to our clients – please, can you reach out to university and maybe make sure that they do answer the SAQA email, or you pre-authorise the release of your personal data and the confirmation that you did study.
Now, unfortunately, this process, which is the crucial one, takes another 3 to 4 months, taking SAQA to 5 months. Now pre-COVID, SAQA was very reliable, around 30 to 40 days. I’m not quite sure why they’re taking 5 months, your guess is as good as mine, but you need to take this into consideration.
Also, to all the politicians out there, I cannot avoid this now. If you want to attract foreign, highly skilled people, and they must wait 5 months for SAQA certificate, a prevents quite a lot for critical skills.
Receiving your SAQA Certificate
Once you get the university answer and SAQA says great, they will give you the SAQA certificate. You receive this these days as an electronic certificate. There’s a QR code on there. There is no paper based SAQA certificate anymore. Some missions, even last week, and we’re doing this now here in August 2022, still requested paper form SAQA certificates. They do not exist anymore for at least a year, so please tell the mission, and please be assured that the electronic version you received is the only one and is correct with a QR code on there.
That’s the SAQA certificate process. I hope you liked this, and that this was useful information. Please share the video and article if you can, otherwise watch our other videos on YouTube or read our other blog articles on immigration.
Written by Andreas Krensel
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