Immigration Categories

A brief description of corporate immigration categories by assignment type follows. The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common category for corporate transfers in our experience is the Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Permit. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (investors, special programs), please contact your representative.

  • Section 11(2) Visa: A short term work visa issued to foreign employees who are travelling to South Africa for work and will remain in South Africa for a period of ninety (90) days or less. The application for a Section 11(2) visa will need to be submitted at the South African Embassy/Consulate in the country of citizenship/domicile.
  • Intra Company Transfer Visa: For Transferees who have completed at least six (6) months in their current position in their home country, will remain on home contract and will be in South Africa for less than four (4) years. This Type of Work Permit is not extendable. If the applicant is required to stay in South Africa for longer than four (4) years then the process for changing status will need to be started at least eight (8) months in advance of the expiry of their current permit.
  • General Work Visa: Employees with a job offer from a South African company. The employer would have to advertise in the national printed media and prove that they could not find a suitable South African to fill the position. In addition, a salary benchmarking would need to be provided and the applicant’s qualifications would need to be evaluated onto a South African level.
  • Critical Skills Work Visa: For specific professional categories or occupational classes. The applicant will need to have five (5) years post-qualification working experience in that specific field. The applicant would also need to have his/her qualification evaluated onto a South African level and need to obtain a professional registration with the relevant body as mentioned in the specific category on the quota schedule.

Typical Process Overview

Intra Company Transfer Visa

The approximate overall processing time from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in South Africa is four (4) to eight (8) weeks if the application is lodged through the relevant South African Embassy or Consulate abroad. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in. In South Africa, the document gathering stage of the process is particularly labor intensive, as a police clearance certificate from every country the applicant has resided in for more than one (1) year since the age of eighteen (18) must be obtained, plus medical reports and birth and marriage certificates. These items may require translation. We can assist with this if required.

Critical Skills Visa

The approximate overall processing time, from the date the first step application is submitted, is three (3) to four (4) months however, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in. In South Africa, the document gathering stage of the process is particularly labor intensive, as a police clearance certificate from every country the applicant has resided in for more than one (1) year since the age of eighteen (18) must be obtained, plus medical reports and birth and marriage certificates. These items may require translation. We can assist with this if required.

For this application, the employee is required to submit their qualifications to SAQA (the South African Qualifications Authority) and thereafter, submit references from previous employers to a professional body within South Africa, that is appropriate to the job they will be carrying out in country i.e. HPSCA (Health Professional Council of South Africa) for medical professionals. Upon approval from both organizations, the employee can then submit the visa application through the relevant South African Embassy or Consulate abroad).

General Work Visa

The approximate overall processing time from the first step to the time the employee is legal to work in South Africa is four (4) to six (6) months if the application is to be lodged through the relevant South African Embassy or Consulate abroad. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. The host company in South Africa is required to complete a few pre-approval processes before the application for the General Work permit is made. In South Africa, the document gathering stage of the process is particularly labor intensive, as a police clearance certificate from every country the applicant has resided in for more than one (1) year since the age of eighteen (18) must be obtained, plus medical reports and birth and marriage certificates.  These items may require translation. We can assist with this if required.

NOTE: All applications for South Africa need to be made in person as the authorities will record the applicant’s Biometric data.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the application process for each category of permit as described above will result in the procurement of the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, Renewal.

  • Critical Skills Work Visa/ ICT Work  Visa/ General Work  Visa (as applicable)
  • Dependent Visitor Visa / Study Visa (as applicable)

Renewal

Intra-Company Transfer Permits are issued for a maximum of four (4) years and cannot be extended further. After this time, if the employee is still needed in South Africa, a General Work Visa or Critical Skills Visa application needs to be made after completing the necessary pre-approval steps. The General Work Visa application includes a resident labor market test; however, it is possible to apply for a waiver of this requirement. The waiver plus Work Permit application can take four (4) to six (6) months, in addition to which, at least two (2) to four (4) weeks should be allowed for document gathering. In addition to the Waiver, we must also submit higher education transcripts and certificates to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to be evaluated. The application process in respect of the General Work Visa, once the waiver has been obtained and the qualifications have been evaluated etc., if done from within South Africa, can take several months to finalize and this will always be dependent upon the backlog currently present within the Department of Lab our at the time of lodgment of the application.

Deregistration

To ensure that assignees leave South Africa after the expiration of their permission to stay and to keep tabs on the number of foreign workers in the country, the government of South Africa requires the Human Resources department of the host company to notify the Department of labor in writing when a foreign employee in South Africa on a Work Permit departs the country.  Deregistration is not required for dependents.

Dependents

Dependent immigration status approval depends on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in South Africa with an Intra-Company Transfer Permit or General Work Permit, the following rules apply for dependents:

  • Minimum age (spouses): Eighteen (18) years
  • Maximum age (children): Eighteen (18) years
  • Unmarried partners: Yes, with notarized government issued certificate of partnership
  • Same sex partners: Yes, with notarized government issued certificate of partnership
  • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): No
  • Work authorization granted? No
  • Note:
    • Children in school will require a Study Visa. Unmarried/Same Sex partners should have been together for at least two (2) years before the application for a Dependent visa is made.

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. We will advise you in detail regarding your specific case; however, general application materials are noted below.

  • A variety of personal and corporate documents will be needed to support the application.
  • Such documents include: current resume (C.V.), birth and marriage certificates, police clearance certificates from all countries where the applicant has lived for over one (1) year since the age of eighteen (18), medical and radiological reports, corporate registration certificates, and application forms.
  • All documentation must be submitted in English. We can assist with the translation requirements.
  • All documentation must be submitted as Originals or Certified copies.
  • Police clearance certificates, medical certificates and bank statements will expire after six (6) months. These documents cannot be more than six (6) months old at the time of the visa application.

Business Visitors

  • Name of visa granted: Visitor Permit
  • Duration of stay: Varies [up to ninety (90) days]
  • General activities permitted: Orientation, home-finding, and other preparations for employment. Cannot be used for purposes of, or in place of, a work permit.

Change of Status

It is not possible to change status from visitor to any other category within South Africa. The applications must be made in the respective South African Mission abroad.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. In South Africa, there are no specific minimum salary requirements in place although employees should be paid what a resident worker would expect to receive for the same job. Please contact your representative for more details for your specific situation. For the ICT visa, payroll can be located either in the home or host country.

Qualifications

The immigration authorities expect to see an undergraduate level university degree. In some situations, a strong case may be made for applicants without a degree provided their level of experience and industry specific qualification is high. However, please note that this route will require a waiver application to be filed, which can take between two (2) to four (4) months to approve. Please contact your representative for more details.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact your representative immediately for further detailed advice.

  • Absence of university level degree
  • Insufficient compensation
  • Employer’s ratio of foreign to local workers
  • Police Clearance Certificate from all countries where the assignee has lived for more than one (1) year since the age of eighteen (18)

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government of South Africa takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation and imprisonment.

The penalties and fines for both the applicant and the South African company are decided by the authorities on a case by case

For more details, please contact your representative.

Bilateral Agreements

South Africa is not a part of any applicable bilateral agreements.