South Africa Work Permits

Applying for a South African work permit allows a foreign national to immigrate to South Africa on a temporary basis in order to undertake an offer of employment. Living and working in South Africa via a Work Permit application bears some similarities to the UK Work Permit placing emphasis upon an offer of employment and involving a primarily employer led process. South African Work Permits may be obtained in four different categories, each with their own requirements.

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Migrating to South Africa 

As a specialist immigration consultancy, IXP Visas can help you to establish which South Africa visa route is the most appropriate for you. We can help you to obtain a visa for South Africa whether you require a short-term solution such as a Visitor Visa, a longer-term work or study visa or a permanent residence permit allowing you to permanently migrate to South Africa.

Work permit applications can be monitored throughout the process and our immigration consultants can provide South Africa immigration lawyer expertise helping you to navigate the wide range of South Africa visas.

Visa Benefits

South African visas fall into one of two categories, temporary residence permits and permanent residence permits.

While the latter category, as the name suggests, is devoted to those immigrating to South Africa on a permanent basis either through business or family based routes, the temporary residence permit group includes the various types of Work Permits available for South Africa along with Study Visas and Visitor Visas.

Work Permits allow applicants to live and work in South Africa for an agreed period, based upon a job offer being in place. However, whilst these temporary visa services are not specifically intended as routes to permanent resident status in South Africa, they can, with the exception of the Intra-Company Transfer, be extended beyond their initial grant.

A Work Permit is initially awarded for periods of up to one year. However, it can be extended beyond this if the position of employment persists providing that an extension is applied for in good time.

Visa Eligibility

In South Africa, work permits are issued as either a general Work Permit, or are granted along the quota system or on the grounds of exceptional ability.

General work permits for South Africa are the most easily recognizable work visas, requiring a specific job offer to be in place before an application can be made.

The process of applying is an employer-led one. In addition to the offered position of employment, the prospective employer must demonstrate that the position has been unsuccessfully advertised in the home market and that no indigenous South African citizen or permanent resident could be found to fill the position.

Applications for this South African immigration service also requires confirmation that the prospective candidate possesses the necessary skills and experience to fulfil the position.

In South Africa, visa applications in this category must demonstrate that:

  • An advertisement has featured in the print media
  • Domestic applicants did apply, but were found to be unsuitable
  • The salary is consistent with current remuneration for South African citizens or permanent residents

Alternatively, the quota system allows candidates whose skills lie in one of several professions deemed to be in short supply to apply for temporary residence in South Africa without the need for a job offer to be in place before an application can be made.

Quota Work Permits can be a popular option as the waiver on the job requirement means that employers do not need to advertise before bringing a foreign national to work for them.

However, this visa service carries its own requirement and applications must demonstrate that the applicant has the necessary skills along with five years of relevant experience.

Importantly, successful candidates must be able to give confirmation within 3months (90 days) of issue that employment has been secured.

The categories of profession included in the quota system and the allocated places in each case are subject to change. An IXP Visas migration consultant will be able to help you assess your eligibility.

Exceptional Skills

The third South African Work Visa category permits applicants to enter the country based on exceptional skills.

In these circumstances, verification by a reputable body is essential and applications must be accompanied by details of the exceptional ability from a South African governmental body or foreign equivalent or an academic or business organisation.

Each case will be assessed upon its own merits and the Department of Home Affairs must be satisfied that the claimed ability is consistent with this route. Where documentary evidence can be provided to support the claim of extraordinary ability, it should be included.

The final permit to work in South Africa which can be obtained by foreign nationals is the Intra-Company Transfer or ICT. This allows employees to transfer between South African and foreign branches or subsidiaries of a company to engage in a specific temporary position.


Work Visas for South Africa, as discussed above, are not specifically designed for those wishing to gain permanent resident status.

However, candidates may extend their permits or ultimately apply for a permanent residence permit. As a result, several circumstances may arise in which applicants relocate to South Africa for a period of several years.

As a result, spouse immigration and dependent immigration are permitted and a successful applicant's immediate family members may join them in the country. However, dependents will not be permitted to undertake employment unless they secure their own permit for work.



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Last Updated :March 8, 2015

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Hi. I really like dealing with IXP Visas. My case manager has been different class and has made the whole thing really easy. I would DEFINITELY recommend their services to any one. Thank you.

Mings, February 25, 2014

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