Working in South Africa

To get a job as a not South African in South Africa is not easy. To improve employement and the economy unskilled work is reserved for South African citizens.

However South Africa offers a number of options for those who are seeking a Work Visa for the purposes of South African immigration.

Similar to other countries the Work Visa legislation focuses on two main areas:

The protection of employment opportunities for South Africans

The ability to recruit skilled foreign workers into skill shortage areas or fulfil corporate requirements.
In essence regulations around Work Visas have to provide a balance between making sure employers recruit local South Africans where possible, but allow them to recruit workers from abroad where they are unable to do this.

Types of Work Visa

Broadly speaking there are two types of Work Visa:

  • There the applicant does not have a job offer
  • Where the applicant has a job offer

Where the applicant requires a work visa and does not have a job offer:

If you do not have a job offer and want to find out whether you qualify for a work visa then contact a specialized agency who can help you. Mostly an assesment is for free and takes only a few minutes to complete.

Where the applicant requires a work visa and has a job offer:

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

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 sistercompanies 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.

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.

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 endeavoured to employ South African citizens or residents. Learn more about the requirements for a work visa here.
Some Frequently asked questions on work visas


Can I apply for Permanent Residency with a work visa?

Obtaining permanent residency via the work visa option inevitably means first having to not just get temporary residency but also maintain it for a 5 year period of time. Intra company transfer visa are not considered within this 5 year rule.

Can my family come with me?

Partners and dependants can accompany holders of work visas. Please note partners are not allowed to study, work or run a business, they are simply allowed only to accompany and stay in South Africa. They may also not be included in permanent residency applications but may themselves apply at a later time dependent on their relationships with the permanent resident.

What about my children attending school?

Dependant children can attend a South African school but need to first obtain a study visa.

Getting help with your visa or permit application

There are many specialized agencies which welcome the opportunity to consult with you as to your eligibility for a visa /permit and answer any questions you may have with no obligation.

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