Applying for a Critical Skills Visa in South Africa

In 2014, the South African government in conjunction with its Home Affairs department, took a bold decision to update its immigration policies which allow foreign nationals with critical skills to enter the country without a job offer. The new(ish) law is based on a well-researched list of occupations that are severely needed to help boost the economic sustainability of South Africa.

What this means is that ideally, you will have an actual job offer before applying for a Critical Skills visa in South Africa; however, in some cases you may apply for a South African Critical Skills visa without an employment offer, in which case you will be required to secure employment in the industry for which this visa was granted within 12 months.

The advantage of a temporary Critical Skills visa is that it is issued for a period of five years and, should the applicant wish to extend their stay in South Africa, they are then eligible to apply for Permanent Residency. From there, the process of living and working in South Africa unencumbered is smooth-sailing.

How do you apply and submit a Critical Skills visa application? You’ll need to:

  1. Make sure that your occupation is on the Critical Skills list.

  2. Make sure that you meet all the requirements.

  3. Do your VFS online application and submit.

  4. Track your application with VFS once submitted.

What if you need to renew or extend your Critical Skills visa? Thankfully, the process is a bit simpler if you follow the instructions on the VFS website as less documents are required than on a brand new application. However, when it comes to extending your visa, the below exceptions apply:

  • Proof to substantiate critical skills, such as publications and research documents are not required and should therefore not be submitted along with your application

  • No need for a certificate from the Department of Labour

  • No need to apply for an endorsement to study part time

Whether you’re applying for a critical skills work visa, a general work visa or corporate permit, the new labour laws make it so much easier to live and work in South Africa.