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South Africa - Visas

It is important to know your visa eligibility status before you make plans to travel to South Africa. Depending on your country of origin, you might need to obtain a residence permit, a temporary visa, or a work permit to travel to South Africa.

Not every foreigner requires a visa to travel to South Africa. You can find a list of these countries on the website of the South African embassy online. In addition, some passport holders of certain countries can visit South Africa for a holiday or a business trip for 90 days without a visa.

If you are not a citizen of any of the countries that do not require a visa, then you need to apply for a South Africa visa before traveling into the country. If you plan to stay in South Africa for longer than the exemption period, you will require a visa. People who want to work, take part in a sports event, or study in South Africa require a visa.

You must also apply for a visa if you want to move to South Africa and stay there permanently. Having a visa does not necessarily mean that you will gain access to the country. You will be able to proceed to the South African port of entry where an immigration officer will confirm that you meet the basic requirements to enter the country. To be granted entry, you will need to provide proof of financial stability, a valid passport, and a travel ticket.

Visa Application Process

Visit your nearest South African consulate or embassy to apply for a visa. If you are physically incapable of going to the embassy, you can hire an immigration lawyer to represent you at the embassy. However, you will be required to provide your passport to the immigration lawyer to bring to the embassy.

Although it usually takes about 10 days to process a visa, it can take longer. The cost of processing a visa is 30 USD or 28 Euros. However, the price keeps changing so check with the South African embassy to find out the current price. The foreign exchange rates also determine the price of the visa. If you are submitting your visa application from South Africa, you will have to do it through the visa facilitation center. In that case, you will be required to pay a fee of 1350 Rands.

Once you finish filling in the visa application form, submit it to the South African embassy together with two passport photos, the application fee, the passport, and the full details of travel arrangements such as accommodation details and financial resources for the period of stay. If a minor is traveling alone, their visa application should come with consent from both parents and signed before a public notary. Applicants over 60 years need to provide proof of medical insurance in addition to other documents. A yellow fever certificate may also be required.

Short stay visas are for individuals wishing to visit South Africa for a period that does not exceed 90 days. A default visitor’s visa is valid for 90 days, but one can apply for a three-month extension. This type of visa can be applied for by anyone who wishes to visit friends or family, research or study, marry, participate in charitable activities, join a spouse working or studying in South Africa, conduct business, and for children to join their parents for medical reasons.

You can apply for a visitor’s visa using a passport with two unused pages, a completed DHA-84 application form, a yellow fever vaccination certificate, a document stating the purpose and period of visit, travel tickets, two color passport photos, and required fees. If you are travelling with children or if they are joining you in the country you will need to submit proof of custody or consent from the parents.

You will be expected to provide proof of financial stability showing that you can take care of yourself once you arrive in South Africa. This is often in the form of bank statements, medical cover, salary advances, or the bank statement of the host.

There are three categories of work visas:

• Critical skills visa
• General work visa
• Intra-company transfer visa

The most commonly applied work visa is the general work visa, valid for five years. However, this type of visa becomes invalid every six months and every year after if the holder does not submit proof of employment to the Director-General. To get this visa, the company employing you needs to prove that the position cannot be filled by a citizen of South Africa. This means that the position needs to be advertised locally to prove that the citizens are not being denied employment opportunities. Proof of the applicant’s qualifications and skills need to be submitted and the qualifications have to be examined by the relevant South African authority body.

You will require a valid passport, a completed DHA-1738 application form, a vaccination certificate, medical and radiology reports, proof of financial means to cater for living expenses, prescribed fee, a police clearance certificate from every country you have stayed in for more than a year since you turned 18, a written undertaking by the employer indicating that they are responsible for costs related to deportation if necessary, proof of qualifications evaluated by the SAQA and translated to the official language of the country, an employment contract signed by the employee and employer, the full details of employer plus proof of company registration, required documentation for spouse and children if they are accompanying you and an undertaking to inform the Director-General if the employee is no longer a member of company.

An intra-company work visa is for applicants who are transferring to a branch or subsidiary of the parent company in South Africa. The candidate has to have been employed at the foreign branch for about six months before the transfer. The visa is valid for two years but can be extended within South Africa for an extra two years. The only added requirements for this visa are letters from the South African company and from the foreign company confirming the transfer.

A critical skills work visa can be applied by anyone whose skills and qualifications are seen as exceptional by the government. An applicant does not need to have a specific employment position during the application time. The visa is valid for three years with a possible extension. It requires the same documents as the other two work visas except for proof of application for certificate of registration by an accredited professional body recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority.

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