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Excerpted from the South Africa Career Guide


Traveling to the Republic of South Africa generally requires a visa. A South African visa enables the holder to proceed to a port of entry in South Africa before the expiration date of the visa. However, possession of a visa does not guarantee automatic admission to South Africa; South African immigration officers at a port of entry examine foreign nationals’ entry requirements. Entry will not be permitted on a one-way flight ticket, unless the person is in possession of a valid temporary work/study permit, permanent residence permit or an appropriate visa.

Visas are not issued on arrival at a port of entry, and a person will be refused admission if a visa cannot be produced. Applicants should apply for the visa type (e.g., visitor, business, work, study) that most accurately relates to the purpose of their visit.

Study Permit/Visa

A person who intends to study in South Africa will require a study permit. This can only be applied for when the applicant is in possession of confirmation of acceptance from a South African educational institution.

In addition to the general requirements, applicants must submit the following documents:

  • A duly completed application form (BI-1738) signed by the applicant.
  • Notarized copy of birth certificate.
  • ...more

Business Visas

Business visas are for foreign nationals to conduct permissible business activities in the destination country, such as attending business meetings, participating in negotiations of contracts, attending short-term seminars or attending conferences for training purposes. Please note that business activities do not constitute work within the meaning of the South African Department of Home Affairs’ guidelines.

If a foreign applicant is a citizen/national of a visa waiver country, he/she does not need a visa to engage in any business function except gainful employment. However, if the applicant is not a citizen of a visa waiver country, he/she must apply for a visa. A business visa to South Africa typically is granted for a period of up to 90 days, but may be limited to shorter periods based on a foreign national’s individual circumstances.

Work Permits

There are several types of work visas in South Africa, including Quota Work Permits, Exceptional Skills Permits, General Work Permits and Corporate Permits.

A foreign national applying for an Intracompany Transfer work visa must have a corporate sponsor in South Africa. The company to which the foreign national is transferred in South Africa must be a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the company where such foreigner was employed immediately prior to the transfer. The employer must prove a direct link between the South African company and the foreign affiliate by common ownership, although the department may also, in its discretion, allow such transfer between companies that do not have common ownership, but a sufficient legal nexus that exists between the companies flowing from a contractual relationship requiring the transfer of skill. Intracompany Transfer work permits may be granted an initial validity period of two years with possible extensions. A separate residence permit or in-country registration is not required as temporary work permits confer the right to work and reside in South Africa.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete South Africa Guide.

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