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How To Apply For A Work Permit In South Africa?

Last updated on: 09/07/2024

Quick Summary

Applying for a work permit in South Africa involves different types of work visas, including the General Work Visa, Intra-Company Transfer Visa, and Critical Skills Work Visa. Each visa has its own requirements and application process, and it is important to ensure eligibility and submit the necessary documentation. Seeking assistance from immigration companies can increase the chances of success, and it is crucial to apply from the applicant’s home country or country of permanent residence.


South Africa is a popular destination for individuals seeking employment opportunities. However, in order to work legally in the country, it is necessary to obtain a valid work permit. The process of applying for a work permit can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right information and guidance, it becomes much easier.

In this blog post, we will provide you with comprehensive information on how to apply for a work permit in South Africa. We have gathered relevant details from trusted external sources so that you have all the necessary knowledge at your fingertips.

Whether you are considering relocating to South Africa or already reside here as an expatriate looking for new job prospects – this guide will help clarify any doubts or questions regarding obtaining a legal authorization to engage in gainful employment within the country’s borders.

So let’s dive into understanding different types of work visas available and their specific requirements!

Types of Work Visas in South Africa

South Africa offers several types of work visas for foreign nationals who wish to work and reside in the country. Each visa has its own specific requirements and eligibility criteria. Here are three common types of work visas available:

1. General Work Visa:

The General Work Visa is designed for individuals who have a job offer from a South African employer that cannot be filled by a local candidate or permanent resident. To qualify for this visa, the employer must demonstrate efforts made to hire suitable local candidates before considering hiring a foreign national.


  • A valid employment contract with an accredited company
  • Proof that no suitably qualified South African citizen or permanent resident was available
  • Relevant qualifications and experience

Application Process:

To apply for the General Work Visa, you will need to submit your application at your nearest South African embassy or consulate abroad along with all required documents.

Duration and Renewal:

The duration of this visa depends on the length specified in your employment contract but can generally range from one year up until five years maximum. The renewal process should begin at least 60 days prior to expiration.

2. Intra-Company Transfer Visa:

This type of visa allows multinational companies operating both inside and outside South Africa’s borders to transfer employees between branches without having first advertised locally.


  • Employment within the same group/branch/company overseas (for a minimum of six months)
  • Offered position within the branch/group/company based in SA

Application Process:

Applications should be submitted through VFS Global centers located worldwide where biometric data will also be collected as part of the process.

Duration and Renewal:

This permit may only last four years after which it expires; however, there is a possibility of applying again once expired if necessary conditions are met.

3. Critical Skills Work Visa:

The Critical Skills Work Visa aims at attracting highly skilled professionals in various fields deemed critical to economic development and growth within South Africa.


  • Qualifications and experience in a critical skills occupation listed on the Critical Skills List
  • Confirmation of registration with the relevant professional body, board, or council (if applicable)

Application Process:

The application process for this visa involves obtaining confirmation from an accredited professional body that your qualifications meet South African standards. Once you have received this confirmation, you can submit your application at the nearest South African embassy or consulate abroad.

Duration and Renewal:

The duration of a Critical Skills Work Visa is up to five years. Afterward, it may be renewed if necessary conditions are met.

It’s important to note that each work visa has its own specific requirements and documentation needed during the application process. It is advisable to consult with immigration experts who specialize in work visas for accurate guidance throughout the entire procedure.

General Work Visa

Purpose and Eligibility:

The General Work Visa is designed for foreign nationals who have secured employment in South Africa with a specific employer. This visa allows them to work and reside in the country for the duration of their employment contract. The purpose of this visa is to fill positions that cannot be filled by South African citizens or permanent residents.

Requirements and Documentation:

When applying for a General Work Visa, there are several documents that need to be submitted along with your application:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Proof of academic qualifications
  3. Offer letter or contract from your prospective employer
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  5. Proof that attempts were made at recruiting locally
  6. Proof showing you possess sufficient funds

It’s important also note additional documentation may vary depending on individual circumstances such as marriage certificates if applicable etc., so it’s advisable consult immigration experts regarding any other required supporting documents based on personal situation.

Application Process:

The process begins with obtaining all necessary documentation mentioned above. Once you have gathered all required paperwork, you can submit your application either online through VFS Global website or directly at one nearest embassy/consulate/VFS center handling visas applications.

During submission, you will pay non-refundable fee which covers processing costs associated reviewing evaluating each case individually. After submitting complete package including payment receipt applicant should receive confirmation email containing reference number tracking progress status throughout entire procedure until final decision reached upon completion reviewal period usually takes few months time frame but could extend longer periods due various factors involved within system itself like workload volume received requests among others.

Duration and Renewal:

The General Work Visa is typically issued for the duration of the employment contract, up to a maximum period of 5 years. However, it’s important to note that this visa does not automatically grant permanent residence in South Africa.

To renew your General Work Visa, you will need to reapply before its expiration date by following similar application process as mentioned above. It’s advisable start renewal procedure well advance avoid any potential delays or complications may arise during processing time frame.

It should be noted that changing from a General Work Visa status to another type of permit while within South Africa is generally not possible. Therefore, it’s crucial ensure correct visa category chosen initially aligns with long-term goals intentions regarding stay country itself.

For more detailed information on applying for a work permit in South Africa, it’s recommended consult immigration experts who can provide personalized guidance based individual circumstances ensuring smooth successful application outcome.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

Purpose and Eligibility:

The Intra-Company Transfer visa is designed for multinational companies that wish to transfer an existing employee from a foreign branch to a branch in South Africa. This type of visa allows the company to bring skilled employees into the country without having to go through extensive recruitment processes.

To be eligible for this visa, both the employer and employee must meet certain criteria. The employer should provide evidence that they have an established presence in South Africa, such as registration with relevant authorities or proof of business operations. Additionally, they need to demonstrate their intention to employ the applicant on a temporary basis.

For employees applying under this category, it is essential that they have been employed by the overseas office of their current employer for at least six months before being transferred. They also need specialized skills or knowledge specific to their position within the company.

Requirements and Documentation:

When applying for an Intra-Company Transfer visa, there are several documents you will need:

  1. A valid passport with at least two blank pages.
  2. Proof of employment by your current employer abroad (such as contracts or payslips).
  3. An official letter from your current employer confirming details about your job role and purpose of transfer.
  4. A detailed curriculum vitae outlining qualifications and work experience.
  5. Proof that you possess any necessary professional registrations required by law if applicable.
  6. Evidence showing financial means during stay in South Africa (bank statements).

It’s important always check with immigration consultants regarding additional requirements based on individual circumstances since these may vary depending on factors like nationality or occupation.

Application Process:

Once all documentation has been gathered according to the requirements of Home Affairs and South African Immigration Law, the application can be submitted either directly at a South African embassy or consulate in your country of residence or via an authorized VFS Global center if available. The processing time for an Intra-Company Transfer visa can take several weeks, so it is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Duration and Renewal:

The Intra-Company Transfer visa can be issued for a maximum period of 4 years. It’s important to note that this type of visa cannot be converted into any other status from within South Africa. If you wish to extend your stay beyond the initial duration granted by this visa, you will need to reapply or explore alternative immigration options such as applying for another type of work permit or permanent residence.

Please note that while every effort has been made to provide accurate information regarding the application process for an Intra-Company Transfer Visa in South Africa, it is always recommended seeking professional advice from qualified immigration consultants who are up-to-date with current regulations and requirements.

Critical Skills Work Visa

Purpose and Eligibility:

The Critical Skills Work Visa is designed for foreign nationals who possess skills that are deemed critical in South Africa. These skills are identified based on the country’s economic needs and shortage of qualified professionals in certain fields. The purpose of this visa is to attract highly skilled individuals from around the world to contribute their expertise to the development of South Africa.

To be eligible for a Critical Skills Work Visa, applicants must have qualifications and experience recognized by an accredited professional body or council in South Africa. They should also demonstrate proficiency in English through language tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.

Requirements and Documentation:

When applying for a Critical Skills Work Visa, there are several requirements that need to be met:

  1. Occupation on the critical skills list: Applicants must ensure that their occupation falls under one of the categories listed on the official critical skills list issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
  2. Qualifications: Proof of relevant qualifications obtained from reputable institutions should be provided.
  3. Experience: Evidence showcasing work experience related to your field is required.
  4. Professional registration (if applicable): Some professions require registration with specific professional bodies or councils within South Africa; therefore, proof thereof may need to be submitted along with other documents.
  5. Valid passport
  6. Medical certificate
  7. Radiological report
  8. Police clearance certificates

Application Process:

The application process begins with obtaining all necessary documentation mentioned above before submitting them at either a local embassy/consulate abroad or directly at any designated VFS Global office if available nearby.

Applicants will then complete Form BI-1738 online via VFS website which includes personal details, employment history etc., pay appropriate fees associated with processing timeframes set out according current regulations governing immigration matters pertaining specifically towards those seeking entry into RSA using these types visas like ours here today – namely “Critical Skill” category!

Duration and Renewal:

The Critical Skills Work Visa can be issued for a period of up to five years, depending on the specific occupation and requirements. After this initial period, it is possible to apply for an extension or renewal of the visa if necessary.

It’s important to note that holders of a Critical Skills Work Visa are allowed multiple entries into South Africa during its validity. However, they must ensure compliance with all immigration laws and regulations while residing in the country.


The Critical Skills Work Visa provides an opportunity for highly skilled individuals from around the world to contribute their expertise towards South Africa’s economic growth. By meeting eligibility criteria and following proper application procedures, foreign nationals can obtain this visa category which allows them work legally within designated fields identified as critical skills by authorities here at home!

Application Process for Work Visas

Applying for a work visa in South Africa involves several steps and it is important to understand the process before starting your application. In this section, we will guide you through the timeline and processing time, discuss the assistance available from immigration companies, explain how to submit your application pack, and clarify whether you should apply from your home country or country of permanent residence.

Timeline and Processing Time:

The application process for a work visa can be lengthy so it’s crucial to plan ahead. The exact timeline may vary depending on various factors such as the type of work visa being applied for and individual circumstances. On average, it takes around 4-8 weeks but could take longer if additional documentation or verifications are required by authorities.

Assistance from Immigration Companies:

Navigating through the complexities of applying for a work permit can be overwhelming. To increase your chances of success while ensuring that all requirements are met accurately within stipulated timelines; seeking professional help is highly recommended. Immigration companies specialize in providing expert guidance throughout every step of obtaining a South African work permit. They have extensive knowledge about different types of visas available along with their specific requirements which helps streamline applications efficiently.

Submission Of Application Pack:

When submitting an application pack, it must include all necessary documents specified by Home Affairs. The list typically includes:

  1. Completed Visa Application Form
  2. Valid passport (with at least two blank pages)
  3. Passport-sized photographs
  4. Proof-of-payment receipt indicating payment made towards relevant fees
  5. Medical certificate confirming good health status (may require radiological report & HIV test results)
  6. Police clearance certificates issued by countries resided over past twelve months

It’s essential to ensure that each document meets prescribed criteria outlined under respective category guidelines. Failure to provide any requested information might result in delays or even rejection of the application. It is advisable to seek professional assistance from immigration companies who are well-versed with these requirements and can help you compile an accurate application pack.

Applying from Home Country or Country of Permanent Residence:

Work visas for South Africa must be applied for in the applicant’s home country or their country of permanent residence. It is not possible to apply while being present within South Africa on a visitor visa, study permit, or any other temporary residency status. It’s important to note that applying from a different country may require additional time for processing as applications are typically forwarded to the South African embassy or Visa Facilitation Service center closest to your location.

By following these guidelines and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can navigate through the application process smoothly and increase your chances of obtaining a work permit in South Africa. Remember to plan ahead, take into account processing times, and ensure all required documents are included in your application pack. This will help you avoid unnecessary delays and setbacks along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Validity of work visas:

Work visas in South Africa have varying validity periods depending on the type of visa. The General Work Visa is typically valid for the duration specified in the employment contract, while Intra-Company Transfer Visas can be issued for a maximum period of 4 years. Critical Skills Work Visas are generally granted for up to 5 years.

Possibility of obtaining permanent residence through a work visa:

While holding a work visa does not automatically grant you permanent residence in South Africa, it may provide an opportunity to apply for permanent residency under certain circumstances. After working legally and continuously in South Africa with specific types of permits or visas (such as critical skills), individuals may become eligible to apply for Permanent Residence Permits based on their contributions and qualifications.

Working on a study visa:

A study visa allows foreign nationals to reside and pursue education at recognized educational institutions within South Africa’s borders. However, this type of permit usually restricts students from engaging in any form of paid employment during their studies unless they obtain additional authorization such as part-time work endorsements or permission from relevant authorities like Home Affairs Department.

Rejection appeals and visa extension:

If your work visa application is rejected, you may have the option to appeal the decision. It is advisable to seek the assistance of an immigration consultant or specialist legal services to guide you through the appeal process. Additionally, if you need to extend your work visa, you should start the application process well in advance of the visa’s expiration date to avoid any disruptions to your employment status in South Africa.


Applying for a work permit in South Africa can be a complex process, but with the right information and guidance, it is possible to navigate through it successfully. In this blog post, we have covered the main types of work visas available in South Africa – General Work Visa, Intra-Company Transfer Visa, and Critical Skills Work Visa.

General Work Visa

The General Work Visa allows foreign nationals to work and reside in South Africa for a specific employer when there are no suitable local candidates available. The visa is valid for the duration of the employment contract.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

An Intra-Company Transfer Visa is designed for multinational companies that want to transfer employees from their foreign branches to their branch in South Africa without having to prove attempts at hiring locals.

Critical Skills Work Visa

For individuals who possess critical skills deemed important by South African authorities such as doctors or engineers listed on the critical skills list, they may apply under Critical Skills Work Visas which allow them up to 5 years stay within SA borders while working legally.

It’s worth noting that each type of visa has its own set of requirements regarding qualifications, experience, and proofs, so applicants must ensure they meet all criteria before applying.

When applying for any kind of work visa, it’s advisable to seek assistance from immigration consultants or experts familiar with these processes since applications can take several months due to processing times involved. It should also be noted that changing status (from intra-company transfer) once inside the country isn’t allowed, hence one needs to plan accordingly if considering switching jobs after arrival into RSA territory.

Remember, the application pack must be submitted either at your nearest embassy or closest VFS center located outside South Africa. Work permits cannot be applied for while already present within SA boundaries unless you’re renewing existing ones. The costs associated vary depending upon the chosen category and additional services required during the entire procedure.

In conclusion, to make sure everything goes smoothly throughout your journey towards obtaining legal permission to live and work here, you need to understand the different options available, their requirements, the application process, and seek professional help when needed. South Africa offers great opportunities for those looking to work here, and with the right visa in hand, you can make your dreams a reality.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with your specific situation, it is recommended that you contact an immigration consultant who specializes in South African visas. They will be able to provide personalized advice based on your circumstances and guide you through the application process.

Remember, to stay updated regarding the latest changes/updates related to South African immigration policies and procedures, it’s always a good idea to keep checking official government websites as well as other reliable sources such as news portals and blogs.

We hope this blog post has provided valuable information about how to apply for a work permit in South Africa. Good luck with your journey!


  1. https://www.visaimmigrationsa.co.za/consultant-services/work-visa/
  2. https://www.ibn.co.za/south-africa/work-visas/
  3. https://www.workpermitsouthafrica.co.za/work-permit-south-africa/

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