Work in South Africa: How to get South African Work Visa

Work in South Africa

If you want to work in South Africa, there are several types of temporary work visas available depending on your job situation in South Africa: general employment, inter-company transfer, highly skilled migrant or business entrepreneur.

As South Africa has a growing economy and manufacturing sector, South Africa has many job opportunities for skilled workers in various positions and increasingly foreigners are finding work in South Africa. However, there are fewer opportunities for employment in South Africa in unskilled or semi-skilled positions, of which there is already vast supply of workers. Thus, the government encourages applications for skilled workers in occupations for which there is a shortage in the country; the most recent list of critical skills lists almost 35,000 positions across 53 different categories.

There is also an emphasis on attracting those wishing to set up a business in South Africa, particularly where this will result in:

  • capital being brought into South Africa from abroad;
  • the manufacture of goods for export;
  • the employment of South Africans.

The various types of South African work visas depend on the employment situation of the applicant. Below is a list of the types of work visas and permits in South Africa, the conditions required to qualify and how to apply.

Who needs a South African work visa?

Your South African work visa acts as your temporary residence visa. Any person who is not a citizen or permanent resident in South Africa and who wishes to work in the country generally needs to obtain a work visa.

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Work visas can be issued for the same time as your employment contract or for a maximum number of years, and can generally be extended. You should apply for a work visa if:

  • you wish to take up temporary employment in South Africa, with or without reward.
  • you wish to set up or run a business temporarily in South Africa.
  • your company abroad wants to transfer you temporarily to a branch or affiliate of the company in South Africa.
  • you’ve been recruited to work temporarily in South Africa as an employee or consultant for government in terms of an intergovernmental agreement.
  • you wish to visit a company in South Africa in which you have more than 25 percent control share.
  • you wish to acquire fixed assets in South Africa for speculation or rent.
  • you wish to visit South Africa to produce a feature film, documentary or TV commercial.
  • you’re a priest or religious worker volunteering to work temporarily at a religious institution in South Africa.
  • you’re an au pair intending to work temporarily in South Africa as part of cultural exchange.

Finding a job in South Africa

For those looking to obtain a work visa in South Africa, it is advised to visit and attend several interviews in South Africa before immigrating. Although an extra expense, it can provide several advantages.

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Work visas are not as complex as they seem, but this is not realized by all companies. If one has a prospective job offer and is stuck on visa issues, an immigration consultant or lawyer can call or meet with them to allay any fears a company may have. Some companies may focus on the short-term, wanting only to employ someone who can start within one month’s time or who they can meet immediately. It’s important to be patient when dealing with a possible employer and explain the details of one’s proposed visa.

For companies looking for skills and considering employing foreigners, the option is definitely available in the right circumstances. These include not being able to find a suitable South African incumbent for the position or requiring a critical skill not readily present in South Africa or simply requiring someone from a foreign office or branch of a multi-national firm.

South Africa has changed a number of laws around the work visa options and while the process is still somewhat arduous, there is now a definite possibility of hiring a foreigner should a company wish to do so.

South African job websites

Jobs are often advertised on job and recruitment websites. Here are some of the best job websites in South Africa.