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In order to qualify for a Critical Skills Work Visa, the foreign national must fall within a critical skills category published by the Department of Home Affairs; have written confirmation of their qualifications or skills and appropriate post-qualification experience from a relevant, accredited professional body/board/council registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) or any relevant Government Department; and provide proof of their qualifications and a Certificate of Evaluation in respect of them from SAQA (if applicable).
The advantage of this work visa route is that a sponsoring employer is not required in the first instance. The work visa may be applied for without a sponsoring employer, in which case, if the application is approved, it is typically issued valid for 12 months to enable the foreign national to enter the country and seek employment within the field of critical skills category in which the visa was approved. An application to renew the work visa must be submitted no less than 60 days prior to the expiry date, including an offer of employment and a written undertaking from the employer, regarding deportation costs and ensuring the passport of the foreign national remains valid at all times, amongst other requirements. The alternative is to include an offer of employment and the letter of undertaking from the employer in the initial application, in which case the visa may be issued for up to the maximum legally permissible five-year duration.
The General Work Visa, in comparison, requires an employment contact with a South African company in the first instance, labour market testing and a Department of Labour application.
The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Work Visa specifically provides for the temporary transfer of a foreign national who is employed abroad by a foreign company operating in a branch, subsidiary or affiliate relationship with a company in South Africa. This visa category is restricted to a maximum period of four years and is not renewable. Amongst other requirements, the South African company must undertake to ensure that a plan is developed for the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident during the period of the transfer.
Section 11(2) of the Immigration Act makes provision for the holder of a Visitor’s Visa to be authorised to conduct work in South Africa. The initial Visitor’s Visa can allow for work for work for up to three months, and it is renewable for a further, maximum, period of three months from within the country. A Port of Entry Visa must be applied for at the relevant South African consular post in the foreign national’s country of citizenship or ordinary residence. Once issued with the visa and upon arrival in South Africa, the foreign national’s passport will be endorsed with an entry stamp reflecting the Section 11(2) work authorisation and their stay recorded on a Visitor’s Visa. The Visitor’s Visa under section 11(2) is not a substitute for a work visa; it is appropriate in limited circumstances only, i.e. where the applicant is required to travel to South Africa to conduct short-term work activities for a limited period pursuant to their employment abroad, and they do not qualify for any of the available categories of work visa.
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