Work permits for South Africa

A summary of your options

Work permits for South Africa

Foreign nationals immigrating to South Africa should apply for the relevant work permit in their home country prior to their arrival in the country. Spouses are not allowed to work in South Africa on the visitor’s accompany spouse permit.

Visitors permit section 11-1

Valid for a three-month period with an option to extend for another three months in certain circumstances. Thereafter, not renewable. The holder of a visitor’s permit is NOT allowed to work in the Republic.

Visitor’s visa endorsed for work section 11-2

Valid for a three-month period only. This visa is only used for short term projects. If the transferee needs to work in South Africa for longer than 3 months, a work permit must be applied for.

Intra-company transfer work permit

This permit is applicable to a professional who is employed offshore by a subsidiary, branch or affiliate and is being transferred to South Africa to work for no longer than 24 months.

Transferee must be employed and paid off-shore, i.e. a “direct and ongoing” relationship must exist between the transferee and his or her home country in order to utilise this work permit. For this purpose, proof of a foreign employment contract must accompany the submission.

The permit is issued for a maximum period of 24 months and is not renewable at this stage.

Quota work permit

The applicant must fall within a specific professional category or occupational class as determined by the Minister of Labour and the Department of Home Affairs.

The applicant needs to have the relevant required qualifications and at least 5 years of experience in the field. An evaluation of the transferee’s foreign qualifications is to be done by the South African Qualifications Authority, and obtain a certificate.

The permit can be issued for 36 to 60 months at a time, and can be renewed thereafter, should the transferee have a permanent contract or renewal clause built into his/her fixed term contract.

General work permit with advertisement

The permit can be issued for 36 to 60 months at time and can be renewed thereafter, should the transferee have a permanent contract or renewal clause built into his/her fixed term contract.

A general work permit has a number of requirements that must be met by the employer, such as:

  • Proof to the satisfaction of the Director General (DG) that despite diligent search, the employer was unable to employ a person in the Republic with qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant.
  • Proof of advertising the position in the prescribed format and time-frames; and a list of unsuccessful applicants.
  • Proof to the satisfaction of the DG in the prescribed manner that the terms and conditions under which he or she intends to employ the foreigner, including salary benefits, are not inferior to those prevailing in the relevant market segment for citizens.

General work permit with a waiver from advertisement

The same terms and conditions as the general work permit; however, instead of placing an advertisement, the applicant has to request the Department of Home Affairs waive the requirement for advertising based on a strong motivation documentation from the applicant and employer.

Business permit

This permit is used when a person wants to invest a minimum of R2.5 million in a business, or start a new business in South Africa. It is issued for 3-5 years and can be extended. The holder of a business permit is also allowed to apply for permanent residency in South Africa.

Investment permit and permanent residence

An investor’s permit and permanent residence can be issued to investors who invest R7.5 million in South Africa. The Home Affairs fee for it is R70,000.

Corporate work permit

A corporate permit is suitable for companies that need large numbers of foreign workers with particular skills not available in South Africa.

The granting of a corporate work permit for the required number of employees is based on pre-approval from the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labour and Department of Home Affairs.The application outlines a predetermined number of required foreign personnel, and has to include detailed job descriptions and the proposed remuneration in respect of each prospective employee.Once individual workers have been identified and recruited by the employer, Home Affairs issues an authorization certificate enabling foreigners to come in and start work more quickly, and with considerably less paperwork required.

The corporate work permit is issued for 5 years, meaning the company can submit one application for a large number of future employees based on 5-year projections.

This article has been submitted by Marussia van der Merwe - Stepping South Relocation and Immigration Services

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