South Africa Work Visas and Permit from Foreign Language Placements
Work Permits
Initiate Immigration South Africa - work visa
South Africa offers a variety of Work permits and work visas to prospective South African immigrants with the express aim of being permitted to undertake paid employment when in the Republic.
Obtaining a work permit for South Africa might at first glance appear a straight forward and simple process, but be warned its not! Most first time immigrants often make the mistake of assuming that they can apply for a job in South Africa without being in possession of a valid work permit/visa, only to be told by potential recruitment companies and employers that they are not able to offer them a position until a such time that they are in possession of a legal and valid work visa/permit.
Our best advice is to first ascertain which work permit you must apply for, as there are quite a number of different work visas and permits that come into play, which is off course dependant on the type of work you intend doing, length of stay, qualifications and your work experience.
So what to do?
There are a various number of different work permits/visa options to consider when looking to secure employment in the Republic of South Africa. Generally speaking the first step is to ascertain which work permit you must apply for, which is off course dependant on the type of work you intend doing, length of stay, qualifications and your work experience.
As in most European countries, the work permit you are issued with will only remain valid for as long as you stay with that specific employer.
Below is a brief introduction to work permits / visa's and the various criteria that must be met in order to apply for a work permit / visa in the Republic of South Africa.
1. General Work
The most common type of Permit issued to foreign workers is the so-called general work permit. To be able to qualify for this type of Visa your new employer must be based in South Africa, provide a vested employment offer, accompaned by documentation confirming:

The work to be undertaken cannot be performed by a South African citizen or permanent residence holder.
The foreign candidate complies with all requirements of the job description.
The Department of Labour or a national salary bench marking organisation must confirm that all terms and conditions of the employment offer, including salary and benefits, are not inferior to those in the relevant market segments for SA citizen and permanent residents.
As a foreign national to be able to qualify for this type of Work permit you must first be in possession of firm and acceptable offer of employment commensurate with your training, qualifications and experience before an application for a work permit can be considered. Your prospective employer must further be able to demonstrate that he/she advertised the position and was not able to fill the position with a South African candidate due to their stringent requirements.
Contrary to the name “general work permit” this type of permit does not allow you to work anywhere and for any company in South Africa. Quite the contrary is true, of all the permits you could possible apply for this permit has the most stringent requirements to fulfil, and will be issued as a last resort to you if you fail to qualify for another work permit category.
Generally speaking if you are still in the process of securing employment in South Africa you will have to consider and apply for a Quota/Shortage Occupation Work Permit.
2. Shortage Occupation Work Permits (Quotas)
Due to current shortages in the South African job market Professionals like engineers, teachers, medical staff and IT consultants will find great job opportunities available to them. Foreign nationals applying for a South African Visa, on the basis of these professional work categories; will be allowed to apply for/recieve a Shortage Occupation Work Permit (Quota Permit) and will not be required to provide proof by means of employment offer.
To be able to qualify for this type of permit you must have at least 5 years relevant work experience, and be able to prove that you posses the necessary qualification, as set out by the Evaluation Qualification Authority of South Africa (SAQA) .
The quota system allows for a certain number of Shortage Occupation work permits in the following broad occupational categories:
30,000 professionals in the category science and engineering
1,000 professionals in the category education
4,000 professionals in the category information industry
5,000 professionals in the category health and medical science
8,000 professionals in the category agricultural science
1,500 professionals in the category management and commerce
It is important to note that within 3 months of entering the country on a Shortage Occupation Work Permit the holder must submit proof of having retained employment in one of these specific categories.
3. Work Permits based on Exceptional Skills
People with certain Exceptional skills/Qualifications, will always be desirable no matter where they reside in the world. To make South Africa a desirable destination for such individuals to come and work and live in South Africa, the current Immigration Act makes it easy for foreign nationals with such skills to receive Residency under the Exceptional Skills Work Permit category.
Applicants must note that all applications to the Department of Home Affairs must be submitted with written proof (Degree, letters of recommendation, etc.) confirming the applicant’s exceptional qualifications and/or skills.
An Exceptional Skills Work Visa is remains valid for a maximum duration of up to three years, if so desired an extension can be applied for. .

4. Intra Company Transfer permit
Should you currently be working for a company with a branch or a subsidiary in South Africa, and you want to come and work in South Africa for the same company then you can apply for an intra company work permit. Permits will be approved for a maximum period of 2 years and are in general not renewable.
The intra-company work permit is designed to enable companies to relocate certain key employees to South Africa on a short-term basis. The Department of Home Affairs acknowledged the fact that in some cases international companies with a South African branch or subsidiary may require this transfer of skills and expertise, with the understanding that the foreign employee stays with the South African company until the knowledge has been successfully passed on and leaves the country thereafter.
International companies wishing to use international talent to strengthen the workforce in their South African branch or subsidiary should apply for this visa. Rapidly expanding South African businesses that rely heavily on foreign expertise might consider instead the corporate permit.
The intra-company transfer offers a fast work permit solution for an interim period. It is however not a tool to relocate your career entirely to South Africa. Should you intend to move to South Africa permanently, even to continue working for the same company, you will need to consider applying for a General work permit.
If you need advice or require help with your work permit application please contact Initiate Immigration on +27 (0) 21 488 9800 or via email: