Refresher: South African Work Visas

south african work visas

Is hiring more foreign workers on the cards for this year? Then you’ll need to remind yourself of the available South African visas and what is required of you with each visa.

No need to do the research yourself, though – we’ve done it for you. Below you’ll find a list of all the South African visas that allow you to employ foreigners.

4 Types of South African work visas

There are four classes of South African work visas that South African employers can use to employ foreigners:

  1. Critical skills work visa.
  2. General work visa.
  3. Intra-company transfer work visa.
  4. Corporate visa.

Let’s look at each in a little more detail:

1. Critical skills work visa

Purpose: For the employment of foreigners whose occupation and qualifications appear on the South African critical skills list.
Valid for: The critical skills work visa is issued for up to 5 years.
Need to know: You can treat a foreigner with a critical skills visa in much the same way as South African applicants. For instance, you do not have to prove that you could not find a South African to fill the advertised position. This means you don’t have to provide proof of a job ad to the Department of Labour or Home Affairs.

2. General work visa

Purpose: For the employment of:

  • Foreigners who do not possess critical skills.
  • Foreigners who are not being transferred to a South African company.
  • Foreigners who are not part of a group of employees under a corporate visa.

Valid for: The general work visa is normally issued for 2 to 4 years, but never for longer than the duration of the employment contract.
Need to know: As the employer, you must prove that you could not find a South African to fill the advertised position. You must also provide the foreigner with a valid offer of employment. This offer of employment must satisfy the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

3. Intra-company transfer work visa

Purpose: To facilitate the transfer of skills and knowledge between employees of an international company and employees at a South African branch, affiliate or subsidiary of that entity.
Valid for: The intra-company transfer work visa is normally issued for a maximum of 4 years.
Need to know: As the South African employer, i.e. branch, affiliate or subsidiary, you have certain responsibilities:

  • You must accept the transfer of the foreign employee from the company abroad.
  • You must ensure that the foreign worker is employed in the specific occupation and capacity for which the intra-company transfer work visa was granted.
  • You must see to it that the foreign employee complies with the provisions of the Act and the conditions of their visa at all times. Should any provisions or conditions be breached by the foreign employee, you must notify the Director-General immediately.
  • You must undertake to ensure that the foreign employee has a valid passport for the full duration of their employment.
  • Any potential deportation costs that may be associated to the employee and their dependent family members will be carried by your company, should it become necessary.

4. Corporate visa

Purpose: Corporate visas are used by South African employers who appoint large numbers of foreigners.
Need to know: If granted a corporate visa, you will receive corporate workers certificates. These certificates must be issued to foreigners you would like to employ. The certificates form part of the required documentation of an application for an individual corporate workers visa.

Also please note that, just like with a general work visa, it is necessary to prove that you could not find South Africans with the suitable skills or experience to employ.

Contact us for help with South African work visas

If you still have questions around South African work visas, please feel free to contact our corporate team. You can reach them in either Johannesburg or Cape Town:

Johannesburg: +27 (0) 11 234 4275
Cape Town: +27 (0) 21 424 2460

Alternatively, request a call back from our website and one of our corporate immigration consultants will contact you instead.

Either way, we look forward to being of assistance to you.