WORK VISAS IN SOUTH AFRICA: WHAT COMPANIES NEED TO KNOW

The Immigration Amendment Act, 13 of 2011 as well as the revised Immigration Regulations (“the Regulations”) has introduced numerous amendments to immigration laws. This article, however, does not constitute a list of all the amendments but will focus on the four main work visa categories which include: the intra- company transfer work visa; the corporate visa; the critical skills work visa; and general work visa.

Intra-company transfer work visas may be issued to a foreigner who is employed by a business, which possesses a branch in South Africa. Further requirements are that the foreigner is obliged to work in South Africa for a period not exceeding 4 years; and is required to submit an employment contract from the employer which has to have been effective for a minimum of 6 months. It is important to note that this visa is non-renewable.

In applying for a corporate visa, companies will need to confirm that their employment equity status reflects a minimum of 60% of South African employees; and indicate the company’s specific business needs to justify the appointment of a foreigner. However, it is those foreign businesses which are contracted to South Africa on the basis of projects with skills from abroad, who experience complications as a result of this requirement.

The Regulations have introduced a new critical skills work visa to replace the quota and exceptional skills permit. This was applied to assist foreigners who fulfil the minimum requirements in respect of qualifications and experience, as stipulated on the critical skills list, in their application process relating to this category.

The general work visa is regarded to be the most issued visa in South Africa, as it makes provision for a foreigner to compete in our labour market. This is, however, subject to the employer substantiating why a local citizen could not fulfil the position; evidencing their efforts made to source local candidates; and providing a list of the unsuccessful candidates.

Businesses should take heed of these changes and ensure they meet all the requirements when engaging foreign nationals in their organisations.

– Clarissa Ah Goo  (Candidate Attorney)

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