Working In SA

Working in SA: Work Permits

Perhaps you have been offered a job in South Africa, or want to set up a business here. Or maybe you've been transferred. If so, you'll need a permit to work here.
Here's information on work-permit categories, requirements and application procedures, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions.

Although not strictly work permits, there are other permits related to doing business or working in South Africa:

Protecting and creating job opportunities

There are limited employment opportunities in South Africa, particularly for the country's vast reserve of unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Accordingly, work permits will normally not be issued to people who follow an occupation for which there are already sufficient people available to meet South Africa's needs - particularly unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

Employers wishing to bring workers into the country from overseas will have to satisfy the Department of Home Affairs that they are cannot find the required staff locally.

However, a key element of the government's economic growth plan is to recruit foreigners with scarce, critical and special skills in certain key areas. A pre- determined number of so-called "quota work permits" are made available for these positions. The list of occupational categories is updated by the Department of Home Affairs every year.

Work permits are a form of temporary residence permit, issued on request to applicants who intend to visit South Africa for longer than three months but less than three years.

Once issued with aquota work permit, you are required to submit proof that you have secured employment in the approved occupational category within 90 days, and then every year after that. Your quota work permit is "open ended", that is valid for as long as you stay employed in the original approved category or profession.

Ageneral work permitis valid for the duration of the contract. However, it will lapse six months after being issued (and every year thereafter) unless you submit "satisfactory proof" to the Department of Home Affairs that you are still employed.

Anexceptional skills permitis valid for three years, and anintra-company transferfor two years.

If you wish to establish or invest in a business in South Africa in which you may be employed, you should apply for a business permit.

Applications are generally welcomed from people wishing to set up a business where this will result in capital being brought into South Africa from abroad; the manufacture of goods for export; or the employment of South Africans.

As a business permit applicant, you will be required to have at least R2,5- million (in 2012) in capital or, if you plan to invest in an existing business, your capital contribution must be part of the intended book value of the business.

However, these amounts may be reduced or even waived for certain key sector industries, such as agro-processing, tourism, textile manufacturing and information and communication technologies.

If you have a valid work permit, you may apply for permanent residence in South Africa. You will have to submit proof of a satisfactory work record while employed in the country.

If you have been working in South Africa for five years on a quota work permit, and can show proof of your employment, you may be granted a permanent residence permit in terms of the Immigration Act.

Your spouse and children will need visas if they are to accompany you to South Africa. They will be issued with temporary residence permits on arrival in South Africa. They can also apply for work or study permits, either before departing or once they are in South Africa.

Citizens from some countries are not required to have a visa when they arrive in South Africa.

If you are in South Africa on a valid work or work seeker's permit, and you leave the country temporarily, you - and your dependents, if any - will not need a re-entry visa, provided your permit does not expire while you are out of the country. This holds even though your permit may have "single entry" endorsed on it.

Generally, work permits are issued for a maximum period of one year. It is best to request the full duration of your intended visit when you first arrive, as extensions are subject to additional fees. If you wish to extend your stay further, you must keep your work/residence permit valid by applying for an extension at your nearest Home Affairs office in South Africa.

You should do this at least eight weeks before your permit expires. Once your permit expires, it cannot be extended, and you will be obliged to leave the country and apply to re-enter from abroad. You should also be clear about the purpose of your visit, as this may not officially be changed once you are in South Africa.

Note that quota work permits are open ended and are valid for as long as you stay employed in the same category or profession.

Source: SAinfo reporter and theDepartment of Home Affairs.