South Africa Visa Options
South African tourism rocketed from 3.9 million visitors per year in 1994 to 11.3 million just a decade and a half later – and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to its position right on the southern tip of the continent, South Africa boasts a year-round season, with visitors flocking to explore the vineyards, mountains and stunning landscapes, world-famous game reserves and some 3,000km of breathtaking coastline.
It takes around 12 hours to fly the 6,000 miles to Cape Town from London but unlike many long-haul destinations the time difference is only an hour, so with no jetlag to contend with you will be ready and raring to explore from the moment you touch the ground.
If you are planning to visit South Africa, as with any country, it is important that you check the relevant visa requirements carefully before you travel. If you are a UK citizen, legislation permits you to visit South Africa for up to 90 days without a visa, subject to proof that you are able to support yourself during the time that you are there. If you want to stay for longer or are thinking about relocating to the sun, you will of course need to go through the application process for a visa.
There are various work permit options for those looking to relocate permanently to South Africa.
The ‘Quota Work Permit’ which applies to individuals whose profession meets the Published Skill Shortage List, and the ‘Exceptional Skills Permit” for those with unique and highly sought-after experience or education are available to individuals who do not yet have a job offer in place.
For any other work visa, you must already have a firm offer of employment. Employees may enter on an ‘Intra-Company Transfer Visa’ while others may enter on a ‘Corporate Work Permit’ which is applied for by the relevant organization for their new recruit(s). A conditional offer of employment from a South African based employer may also enable you to apply for a ‘General Work Permit’, as long as the employer can prove that they have previously tried to recruit a South African national or existing resident for the position.
For those thinking of retiring to the sun, the ‘Retired Persons Permit’ is an ideal option and one that is relatively easy to secure. While a permanent visa may take up to 24 months to process, a temporary visa may be issued in the meantime subject to proof that you have the means to support yourself, and this is valid for four years or until such time as your permanent visa is granted.
‘Business Permits’ are available to individuals investing in the country subject to an investment of 2.5 million Rand or more. Those investing considerably more may apply directly for permanent residence, while 7.5 million is the magic number for being granted residence with no need to make an investment at all.
A ‘Study Permit’ is a popular choice for those looking to spend longer in South Africa while working towards academic or professional qualifications, while several other options are available to spouses, life partners and relatives of South African residents. As with any destination, visa rules are subject to change at any time so do check current requirements carefully before you plan your trip.