Some years ago Cape Town was full of students on internship permits, spending a fair amount of time on the beaches and at the same time getting some exposure to other cultures and practical overseas work experience. The permit which enabled this lifestyle in South Africa was called the internship permit or visa.
Since 1 July 2005, the entry regulations for South Africa have changed for interns from overseas.
The situation is now different and not as clear cut any more. The individual visa situation for students wanting to gain practical experience changes according to length of stay in South Africa. A key deciding factor is, if the person will be earning a salary.
As a student coming to South Africa for voluntary work, there are various visa categories you may fit. You could for example apply for a section 11(2) permit or maybe a voluntary permit or an exchange permit. In other cases it could be a general work permit for South Africa. So each case is basically measured on its own merit.
Let’s have a look at the different internship visa and permit options for South Africa
Internship Permit option 1: The 11(2) permit or visitors permit with authorisation to work in South Africa
This intern permit option is valid for three months only. The trainee is not allowed to receive any remuneration in South Africa at all. The 11(2) permit is applied for at the South African Embassy in the applicants country.
For the visitors permit with authorisation to work, pre-authorisation is required from Pretoria. So, before the intern enters South Africa, the following has to be done: An application for authorisation is to be sent to Pretoria with accompanying documents (please contact us for a current list of documents required).
We can assist with this and apply for the authorisation on the trainees behalf. This way we can make sure we can follow up on the permit and when it comes through, send it off without delay. The intern then applies at the South African embassy in their home country for the permit. In order to do that he/she will require a letter from the company in South Africa, confirming the internship and the duration thereof.
On arrival at the South African airport the intern needs to show the letter from the Department of Home Affairs to the officials, stating the name of the intern, the duration and duty to be performed in South Africa. The applicant takes this letter along with accompanying documents and enters South Africa on the 11(2) permit.
Internship permit option 2: The volunteer permit for South Africa
The volunteer permit is another option that can be considered by interns coming to work in South Africa. It is issued for a person who is not being remunerated in South Africa and will be in South Africa for longer than 3 months.
To qualify for this kind of “internship permit”, evidence of sufficient funds needs to be provided. The candidate would also have to supply documentation from an organisation in South Africa confirming the voluntary assignment. The documentation needs to include proof that the person will not be paid in South Africa and also confirm that all expenses will be covered while in South Africa.
Internship Permit option 3: Exchange Permit for South Africa
The other option for interns coming to South Africa to gain work experience, is the exchange permit.
Persons participating in a program of cultural, economic or social exchange, organised or administered by an state body or a learning institution, in conjunction with a learning institution or an state body. Please get in touch with us for the current requirements.
A foreigner might also qualify for an exchange permit if they are under 25 and are not planning to work for longer than a year. In this case the permit is tied to a specific employer.
If you have not yet found an organisation in Cape Town to do your internship with or if you are looking for a permanent job offer in South Africa, feel free to browse our foreign language recruitment website for current vacancies Language Recruiters.
Please note that the requirements associated with immigration law in South Africa can be subject to sudden changes. If you are planning your internship in South Africa, please get in touch with one of our experienced immigration practitioners to discuss your individual situation.
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