Applying for a Study Visa for South Africa

Student visas have made it possible for students all around the world to study in a land of their choosing. South Africa has a range of internationally recognised tertiary education institutions and has long been a popular destination for many foreigners looking to study abroad.

There are a variety of reasons for wanting to pursue an education in South Africa: it might be to improve your command of the English language, to take advantage of the great student life, the magnificent weather, learn about the various cultures, or explore the general splendor of the country. Whatever it may be, we have mapped out everything you need to know to make your visa application a breeze.

When and how do I obtain a Study Visa?

As a Study Visa is tied to the educational institution you attend, you can only apply for the visa once you have provisional acceptance to study at a specific institution. Most institutions will issue a Letter of Admission to assist you with the Study Visa application. You are required to apply at a South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate or Mission in your country of origin.

 Please note: acceptance by a university does not guarantee that you will be issued a Study Visa, so it is strongly advisable that students apply for a Study Visa and await the outcome before departing to South Africa.

 What documents do I need to apply?

 You can find a list of required documents here.

 How long will it take for my Study Visa to be issued once I apply for it?

 The application process times vary from country to country but it typically takes six to eight weeks. International students cannot be officially registered to a university until they have a valid Study Visa, so allow sufficient time from the time of application at a higher institution to obtain your visa.

How long will my Study Visa be issued for?

In the case of a student at a higher learning institution, the Study Visa will be issued for the duration of your coursework.

Can I apply for a renewal of a Study Visa?

You may apply for a renewal. You will need the same documents as you did for the original Study Visa application.

What if I leave my studies or do not register?

If you receive a Study Visa for South Africa, and subsequently do not take up your registration, then the Study Visa will automatically lapse. The same will apply if you are de-registered from your studies at any time during the duration of your student program.

I have a Study Visa and I want to leave the country for a vacation. Will I need a re-entry visa?

No. All visas are multiple-entry. Just make sure of your visa’s validity and expiry date.

Can I work on a Study Visa?

Yes. If you have a valid Study Visa and are registered with an educational institution, you are allowed to work part-time for a maximum of 20 hours per week (but not during school breaks).

Can a Study Visa lead to Permanent Residency or a Work Visa?

A Study Visa can be seen as a way to obtaining Permanent Residence in South Africa, but it will be a two-step process. The Study Visa itself does not lead to Permanent Residence, but can lead to a work permit such as a Critical Skills Visa for those students who are completing a PhD. This in turn can lead to Permanent Residence.

Did you know that the most common reason for delays in visa applications is incomplete or missing documents? The Department of Home Affairs only considers the application based on what you’ve submitted, so make sure that your application is up to scratch by contacting us on We’re always here to help.