Critical Skills Work Visa – Why You Should Check If You Qualify

On April 12, 2016 / by Michaela / Leave a comment

Critical Skills Work Visa South Africa

South Africa is a beautiful landscape for those looking to live and work there. In May 2014, some if not most of the visa regulations changed suddenly, including the work visa regulations.

Exceptional Skills Work Visa and Quota Work Visa were abolished on behalf of the Critical Skills Work Visa, which gives many foreigners in South Africa a solid legal base to stay.

Let’s have a look at what it is, who qualifies, how the application process works and what the time frames are.

Critical Skills Work Visa: What is it?

Despite of an unemployment rate of just over 25%, there are a variety of sectors which are desperately undermanned in South Africa. For this very reason the Critical Skills Work Visa was created. The critical skills work visa is not limited in terms of numbers, like the Quota Work Visa was. If you fit into any of the categories you can apply and will be given a work visa for a year, which enables you to live in South Africa during your job hunt. No job offer needed for the application process.

Critical Skills Work Visa: Who Qualifies?

When the Critical Skills Work Visa was launched in 2014 a list of critical skills categories was released. Those skills or job titles include anything from sheep shearers to nuclear physicists and its very possible that you fit in there somewhere. Some critical skills categories are fairly broad and open for interpretation, e.g. Corporate general manager or language skills. Although some immigration agencies in South Africa clearly link language skills to Business Process Outsourcing and will only apply on behalf of their clients if the client has call centre experience or intends to work in a call centre. Other Immigration Consultants will use a wider interpretation of the category, especially since Business Process Outsourcing is not explicitly an application criteria in the South African immigration legislation. The same applies to corporate general management. It’s important to find an Immigration Consultant which will look at those categories with you and then use their professional expertise to advise you which category will give you the best chance of success.

Critical Skills Work Visa: How does the application process work?

If you are not currently holding a work visa for South Africa (this excludes endorsed work visas that fall into other categories like spouse visa), you will have to apply for your critical skills work visa at the closest South African mission in your home country. This can be a consulate or an embassy. Careful, in Germany for instance you have to apply at the mission closest to where you are registered. If you are registered in the south of Germany but you study in Berlin for instance you will have to apply in Munich.

The following information must be submitted:

  • Valid passport
  • Photocopies of passport, previous passports and previous visas
  • One fully completed application form DHA-1738
  • One biometric photograph
  • Proof that the applicant falls within the critical skills category
  • If the applicant has already secured employment prior to submitting the work visa application, an original or certified copy of the employment contract
  • If the applicant has already secured employment prior to submitting the work visa application, a written undertaking by the employer / company in South Africa accepting responsibility for the costs related to the deportation of the applicant, should it become necessary and to ensure that the passport of his or her employee is valid at all times for the duration of his or her employment.
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Medical and radiological report
  • Proof of payment
  • DHL envelope to send back passport with visa once approved and stamped

In Germany a critical skills work visa application currently takes up to 8 weeks. Should your critical skills work visa application get rejected you can compile an appeal application. The appeal application is processed at the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria which can take several months. This is why it is important to have your application compiled professionally the first time around.

Critical Skills Work Visa: How long is it valid for

If you have not yet secured employment in South Africa, you will be issued with a 1 year Critical Skills Work Visa which can be renewed in South Africa once you have found a job. This one year visa is meant to give you the legal base to live and job-hunt in South Africa. Keep in mind, if you have already secured employment in South Africa you will be issued with a Critical Skills Work Visa for up to 5 years. If you have been using your critical skills in South Africa for 5 years in total and this can be proven through reference letters and CV you qualify for permanent residency.

Ok so what makes this visa so special?

No job offer needed, not tied to a specific company, relatively quick to get, renewable and qualifies for Permanent Residency.

When applying for a visa for South Africa it’s important to know all visa options available to you – visa options that give you flexibility, fast turnaround times and the ability to eventually renew or apply for permanent residency. Should you have any questions with regard to your visa application for South Africa, please feel free to contact us.

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Michaela heads up the marketing department for Initiate Holdings. An expat herself she understands the unique challenges immigrants are facing in South Africa.

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