South African work visas: Here’s the truth about 5 common myths

Sa Migration – 08 June 202

We have a question for you – can a foreign national start working for you as soon as the work visa application has been submitted?

If your answer was either “Yes’ or “I don’t know”, keep on reading.

There are many (costly) misconceptions around South African work visas, and we’ve put together a guide to the five most common ones for employers.

MYTH 1: A South African work visa enables the visa holder to work for any company in South Africa

TRUTH: South African work visas only allow visa holders to work for the employer stipulated in the visa conditions. It is illegal for the visa holder to work for another company. Similarly, it is illegal for an employer to hire and allow a foreign national to work for them if that person’s visa is endorsed for work at another company.

MYTH 2: We can quickly and easily transfer a work visa from one company to another

TRUTH: The visa holder must apply for a new work visa if he or she wants to move to a new employer. That means once again submitting a full visa application with all supporting documents. This process is referred to as a ‘change of conditions’ but it is no quicker than any other visa application. The Department of Home Affairs also doesn’t process these applications faster. You can still expect to wait x to x weeks on an outcome.

MYTH 3: Renewing a visa is much quicker and easier than a first-time application

TRUTH: Renewals is as much work as the original visa application in most cases. Unfortunately, renewing a visa also doesn’t happen faster than a first-time visa application. Our advice is to start initiating the visa renewal process 9 to 12 months prior to the expiry date of the work visa.

MYTH 4: I can let a foreign national commence employment with my company as soon as they have submitted their visa application

TRUTH: Any foreign national may only start working for you once they have received their work visa. That person does not have the right to work for you while they’re waiting on their visa’s outcome, regardless of how long the process might take.

MYTH 5: Once an employee has worked in South Africa for 5 years, he or she can apply for permanent residence

TRUTH: The only people who can apply for permanent residence with 5 or more years of work experience are those with a work visa considered under Section 19 of the Act. Intra-company transfer work visas, corporate work visas, exchange visas and student visas do not count towards eligibility for permanent residence.

Please note that critical skills work visas works differently to the rest of the eligible work visas:

For all work visas other than the critical skills work visa, the applicant must have gained the work experience in South Africa while on a South African work visa. However, if a person who applies for a critical skills work visa already has 5 years of experience at the time of submission, he or she could apply for permanent residence immediately. This work experience does not have to be from working in South Africa; it can also be from experience gained outside of South Africa.

Want to get into the specifics?

If you’d like to discuss any of the points in our guide with a consultant, please feel free to call us on numbers below . Alternatively, email us and a consultant will be in touch within 24 hours.

Whatsapp  Tel No : +27 (0) 82 373 8415

Email –

Landline :  +27 ( 0) 21 879 5560 – Head Office – Cape Town

     +27  (0 ) 12 880 1490 – Johannesburg / Pretoria

Tel No office : +27 (0) 82 373 8415 ( Whatsapp )

Tel No admin : +27 (0) 64 126 3073
Tel No sales : +27 (0) 74 0366127

Kind Regards

Rod Maxwell – IP ( SA )
Sa Migration International
Tel No office   :      +27 (0) 82 373 8415

Tel No admin  :      +27 (0) 64 126 3073

Tel No sales     :      +27 (0) 74 036 6127
Fax No          : 086 579 0155

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