5 Tips for South African companies who want to employ foreigners

employ foreignersEmploying foreigners differ vastly from employing South Africans. When you employ foreigners it involves a hefty amount of paperwork, rules, regulations and, unfortunately, waiting.

Our aim is to help you understand the process so that you can prepare better. That’s why we want to share these five tips with you:

1. Know your responsibilities

There are definite do’s and dont’s when employing foreigners.

They’re not guidelines either. These do’s and don’ts are required by law. Ignore them and you could be faced with huge fines from the Department of Home Affairs.

Here is what’s expected of you:

As a South African employer of foreign staff, you must:

  • Make an effort to ensure that no illegal foreigners are employed by you.
  • Make an effort to ascertain the citizenship or residence status of the foreign employees.
  • Inform the Department of Home Affairs of the termination of a foreign employee’s employment.
  • Inform the Department of Home Affairs of any breach of the foreigner’s status in South Africa.
  • Keep the relevant documents relating to the foreign employee for two years following the termination of the foreign’s employment.

You should absolutely not:

  • Employ an illegal foreigner.
  • Employ a foreigner whose status does not allow then to be employed.
  • Employ a foreigner in a capacity that is not in line with the foreigner’s visa or conditions thereof.

2. Familiarise yourself with the various South African work visas

If you want to get the last don’t above right, the best thing you can do is familiarise yourself with the various South African work visas:

  • General work visa: The company needs to prove that a suitable South African could not be found to fill the advertised position.
  • Critical skills work visa: For individuals whose occupation and qualification appears on South Africa’s critical skills list.
  • Intra-company transfer work visa: To transfer an overseas employee to a South African branch, subsidiary or affiliate.
  • Corporate work visa: A visa that enables South African employers to employ great numbers of employees from abroad, all under the remit of one application.

3. Be patient

If there’s one thing that’s certain about employing foreigners in South Africa, it’s that it takes time. The general work and critical skills visas take up to a year to finalise!

There is nothing you can do to speed up the process. The best you can do is be patient and factor these timelines into your planning.

4. Get professional help with rejections and repeals

It is agonising when you’re anxious to have a candidate start and get a rejection on a visa application. Our advice is to get professional help to deal with a rejection. An immigration expert will be able to tell whether or not an appeal is viable. And assist with the appeal.

5. Act in time when visa renewals are due

In the first point we mentioned that should never employ illegal foreigners. This includes foreigners whose working for you on an expired visa.

To prevent a situation where you’re breaking the law, keep a close eye on the expiry dates of the visas of your foreign employees. Start the renewal process at least 6 months before the date of expiry. This will help ensure that there is no break in the employment. Or worse – that you lose that foreign employee for good!

Bonus tip

Employing expats are about more than visas, so here are our three most-read articles by employers just like yourself on different stages of employing an expat:

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