Work Permits & Visas South Africa

work permits and visas South AfricaInitiate Immigration is part of the umbrella of Initiate companies, which provides specialist recruitment solutions for big corporate companies and smaller enterprises. As a foreign language speaker you can conveniently contact Initiate for both job opportunities and work permits for South Africa. Our foreign language recruitment division, Language Recruiters will be pleased to assist you.

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Work permits and visas South Africa:


South Africa is by far the biggest growing economy in Africa; it’s the powerhouse of the wider African economy making it a sought after business destination and focus for international work seekers. As with any other growing economy in the world, continual development in both the manufacturing and service sectors requires a large number of skilled workers.


As South Africa continues to grow its economic power base, more and more skilled foreign nationals are looking to South Africa for work opportunities, but to be allowed to legally work in the country you will be required to apply for a work permit.


At the same time the financial sector, call centre and digital marketing industry are expanding. Some of the big digital agencies have recently moved their Head Quarters to Cape Town to attract foreign language speakers with a package of benefits like a work permit for South Africa, a decent salary and the opportunity to live in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.


There are various types of Work Visas/ Permits for South Africa that can be issued to foreign nationals looking to emigrate to South Africa or secure employment, and the type of permit or visa issued is dependent on the applicant’s current situation.


A brief introduction to the requirements and overview of all the different types of South African work visas available to applicants can be found below. For more details simply click on the headings.



The most common type of South African work visa extended to foreign nationals is the General Work Visa. A successful applicant must meet the following requirements:


  • The employer must show evident proof that the position was offered to South African citizens, but that no local applicants could fill the position. This usually requires the placement of an advertisement in the local press.
  • Proof of the applicant’s skills, experience and/or qualifications must be provided, and be confirmed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
  • The candidate has to have a recommendation from the Department of Labour(DOL).


For more details on Section 19 (2), the General Work Visa, please refer to our blog post.



Attention: As per 26 May 2014, the Quota Work Permit and Exceptional Skills Work Permit have been replaced with the Critical Skills Work Visa.


The South African government considers some skills and qualifications as exceptional. In these instances, foreigners with such qualifications and/or skills may be able to obtain an Exceptional Skills Work Visa, allowing them to enter South Africa before securing employment. The Exceptional Skills Work Visa is valid for a maximum duration of three years, with the possibility of extension.


An Exceptional Skills Works Visa may be issued to applicants whose skills or qualifications are considered ‘exceptional’ by the South African government. This visa has a maximum duration of three years, and may be extended.



Attention: As per 26 May 2014, the Quota Work Permit and Exceptional Skills Work Permit have been replaced with the Critical Skills Work Visa.


A Quota Work Visa is issued and granted by the Department of Home Affairs to a pre-determined number of foreign nationals who meet their qualification requirements and/or a prescribed number of years of work experience.


Under the Quota Work Visa categories available positions need not be advertised, but an applicant must be able to provide satisfactory documentary proof of the validity of their skills and/or qualifications. At the time of application, an existing employment contract or job offer is not required, but must be provided within three months of the permit being issued.



Employees of multi-national companies often need to be transferred between countries. In the case of a person being transferred into South Africa, an Intra-Company Transfer Visa must be obtained. This visa is valid for 4 years only, with no possibility of extension.


A final word of advice before leaving to come to South Africa, make sure you understand your legal status and which of the above categories is most suited to you /your situation. If at this stage you are still looking for work in South Africa, feel free to contact our in-house recruitment agency, Language Recruiters, specialising in foreign languages.

Updated According to Immigration Act 2014