General Types of Work Visa

Work Visas in South Africa are generally categorized in two types which are:

  1. Application for a visa without a job offer.
  2. Application for a visa with a job offer

Application for a visa without a job offer:

  1. Critical skills work visa – This visa is based on a well researched list of occupations that are badly needed in South Africa. You don’t need a job offer to apply for the visa, and the visa enables you to enter and stay in South Africa for 12 months to secure a position

Application for a visa with a job offer

There are three options for applying for immigration to South Africa via a work visa where the applicant has a job offer:

  1. An Intra company transfer – Where the individual is being transferred from a branch of the company, based outside of South Africa, to a branch of the company within South Africa. This work visa can also be applied for by individuals who are employees of sister companies or companies with a shared interest. The visa allows the employee to relocate to South Africa and undertake employment for a certain period of time and only for the specified employer.
  1. Corporate work visas– These can be applied for by organisations that have a need to recruit a number of foreign staff over a set period of time. Obtaining a corporate work visa is hugely beneficial to an organisation. It not only reduces costs, but also speeds up the work visa application process. The individuals applying ‘under’ the corporate visa do not have to provide for many of the requirements normally associated with a work visa.


WORK ABROAD SA has a specialised department that deals with the unique needs of companies. If you are a company looking for the most comprehensive visa and permit solutions, request a call on our contact page.

  1. General work visa – Where an individual does not meet the criteria of any of the above work visas an application would have to made under the General Work Visa category. According to the South African Immigration Act, the applicant for a General Work visa has to provide a conditional offer of employment from a South African based employer. In addition also documentation, confirming that the employer has fully endeavored to employ South African citizens or residents.

Critical Skills Work Visa

 A Critical Skills work visa may be issued to a person who possesses skills or qualifications deemed as critical and which has been set forth in the Government Gazette No.37716 on 3 June 2014 by the South African Home Affairs . A critical skills work visa shall be issued for a period of up to five years.

You don’t need a job offer to apply for the visa, and this visa enables you to enter and stay in South Africa for 12 months to secure a position.

  • The foreign Applicant must persuade the DHA that he or she has the necessary skills and/or qualifications befitting a critical skills occupation enumerated in the Critical Skills List published in the South African Government Gazette on
    4 June 2014.
  • All foreign qualifications must be evaluated by the South African Qualifications Authority (“SAQA”) and must register with the SAQA-Accredited Professional Body, representing the specific occupational category which the Applicant purports to comply with.
  • To apply for a Critical Skills Visa, an aspiring applicant will need to obtain a Critical Skills confirmation letter from the SAQA-Accredited Professional Body.
  • Our dedicated team of experts will help you through the whole process with:
  • Your qualification assessment with SAQA
  • Your Critical Skill category
  • Your registration with your South African Professional Body
  • Processing your Critical Skills confirmation letter
  • Visa application process

Intra-Company Work Transfer

This is a permit issued to foreigners being transferred by their own Company to an affiliate company in South Africa.

Occasionally, multinational companies may decide to transfer an existing employee from a foreign branch in South Africa. These employees must apply for intra-company transfer work visas. In such cases, no proof of steps taken to obtain the services of a South African/permanent residents will be required.

  • The foreign Applicant must demonstrate that he or she has been employed by a foreign corporate entity for at least six months and that the foreign employer will be transferring the Applicant to its South African branches subsidiary or “affiliate” (that is, a corporate entity in association with the foreign employer).
  • An application for this work visa cannot be made in South Africa under any circumstances unless the foreigner has a two-year visa to its maximum of four years or renewal.

General Work Visa

  • This visa is based on an offer of employment from a South African prospective employer.
  • The employer must apply to the Department of Labour (“DOL”) for a certification which will confirm to the Department of Home Affairs “(DHA”) directly confirmation of whether suitably qualified South African candidates exist for the position and that the foreign Applicant possess the necessary skills and qualifications for the offered position.
  • Once the DOL has concluded its mandate and conveyed to the DHA its certification (either positive or negative) the Applicant will then file the work visa application.
  • The DHA will approve or refuse a general work visa application, depending on its compliance with the statutory scheme the DOL issues a positive certification.

Business Visa

  • The Immigration Act enables a foreigner to apply for a business visa for a maximum duration of three years (extendable) on the basis of a foreign direct investment into a prospective business enterprise, or in an existing one, on the basis of a R5 million investment. Such a visa is issued subject to the following:
  • At least 60% of the total staff complement employed in the operations of the business is South Africans employed permanently in various positions.
  • The business must be registered with the South African Revenue Service, Unemployment Insurance Fund, Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries and Diseases and The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (where applicable).
  • The Department of Trade and Industry must issue a letter regarding both the feasibility of the business and its contribution to the National Interest of South Africa.

 Study Visa

  • Study visas are issued to minor foreign children attending primary and high school as well as adults studying at tertiary educational institutions in South Africa. These visas are issued on the following basis:
  • A letter of provisional acceptance or acceptance from the learning institution stating the duration of the course must be submitted.
  • The learning institution must be registered in terms of specific South Africa legislation enumerated in the Immigration Regulations, otherwise the learning institution will be unsatisfactory to support a study visa application.
  • The study visa is issued for the duration of the course of intended study.

Spousal Visa

  • The Immigration Act provides for two specific types of temporary residence visas which a foreign “spouse” of a South African person may apply for.
  • The term “spouse” includes civil marriages as well as life-partnerships (which must be at least two years old at the time the application is made).
  • The two types of spousal visas are:

(i) Relative visa

  • This visa is issued for a fixed two-year period, extendable. It requires a South African spouse to demonstrate the availability of at least R8, 500.00 to support the foreigner over the two-year period.
  • This visa does not enable the foreigner to take up any form of work in South Africa. But with our expertise, we assist spouses to South African citizens to apply and have their Relative visas endorsed and take up employment.

(ii) Visitor Visa

  • This visa is issued for up to three years at a time, extendable.
  • The Applicant can apply for any type of business, work or study

authorization on this visa without having to comply with the normal application requirements stipulated in the Immigration Act for those temporary residence visas.

  • The South Africa spouse does not need to demonstrate the ability to financially support the foreigner.


  • The Immigration Act provides for 9 specific permanent residence categories. These are:
  1. A demonstration of having been in possession of work visas (besides intra-company transfer work visas) for the past five years, without any gaps of time, with a permanent job offer secured in South Africa.
  2. On the basis of a spousal relationship which is at least five years old, whether by way of marriage or life-partnership.
  3. For a child under the age of 21 of a citizen or permanent resident.
  4. Child of any age of a citizen.
  5. On the basis of a demonstration that the foreigner has one of the critical skills enumerated on the Critical Skills List published in the Government Gazette on 4 June 2014, with at least five years of post-qualification experience (not necessarily related to the critical skills).
  6. On the basis of an intended investment or investment in a   business enterprise or prospective business enterprise of no less than R5 million, or a lesser amount as agreed by the DHA should the business enterprise fall within one of the prescribed National Interest sectors of the South African economy.
  7. On the basis that a foreigner with refugee status in South Africa for at least the past five years obtains a certification from the Refugee Standing Committee that he or she will remain a refugee indefinitely.
  8. On the basis of pensions or irrevocable annuities for the rest of his or her life, or on the basis of assets realizing to the foreigner, no less than R37, 000.00 per month.
  9. On the basis that the foreigner has a net worth no less than R12 million and pays to the DHA an amount of R120, 000.00 upon the approval of the application.


  • The Immigration Act enables a foreign person to apply for a retired person visa for up to four years on condition that the foreigner demonstrates that he or she is entitled to a pensions or irrevocable annuities for the rest of his or her life from the country of his or her origin, or from assets he or she may own, realizing no less than R37, 000.00 per month for the following 48 months.
  • The retired person visa holder may apply to the DHA for permission to conduct work on such a visa, and such authorisation is granted at the discretion of the DHA.


  • We assist in preparing and formulating appeals for rejections by completing the online application form and arranging for submission at the Visa Facilitation Centres around South Africa.
  • Appeals are subject to DHA approval and we assist applicants to submit the appeal within the 10 working days for both section 8(4) and section 8(6) appeals.


When applicants have exhausted the section 8(4) and 8(6) appeal processes and the result is still negative, with our highly trained team of immigration attorneys, we assist with drafting litigation papers, instituting legal action in the High Court of South Africa against the Minister and the Director General of Home Affairs until the desired outcome is obtain on behalf of our client.