South Africa, with a population of 53 million, is known as the “Rainbow Nation” due to its ethnical diversity and its 11 official languages.

In 2014, South Africa became Africa’s second largest economy – behind Nigeria – and the largest in Southern Africa.

South Africa is rich in natural resources and is the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium. The country remains one of the major players in the mining industry and the processing of minerals.


You can apply for a tourist visa extension – once – in country but this should be done 60 days prior to the expiry of your original tourist visa. However, if you have less than 60 days left on your tourist visa, you can still apply for an extension adding a “letter of good cause” explaining while you are late in submitting your application and it will be at the discretion of Home Affairs to grant you an extension or not.

You can work a maximum of 20 hours per week on a ‘study visa’ – study visas are for tertiary education only – and you do not need to ask for a special permit to do so.

No, if you come to SA to do any time of work you must have an appropriate work visa. In this case, you would apply for a section 11(2) visa which is typically designed for punctual short work missions. What is considered as “work” is any activity, remunerated or not, which is in line with the usual activities performed in your work environment abroad.

There are different categories of work visas in South Africa which you could apply for: which one will apply to you will depend on a lot of factors.

The work visas are:

  • ICT (Intra Company Transfer) visa: issued for 4 years, they are ideal for employees transferred from a company overseas to work at their SA branch for a fixed period of time and in a specific capacity. It is issued in the country of residence and not renewable.
  • Critical Skills visa: issued for 5 years, it is for people who have certain skills and qualifications deemed essential or “critical” to the economy of South Africa. It comes with certain requirements such as a SAQA certification and a registration to a recognised Professional Body in SA.
  • General Work visa: issued for 5 years, it basically applies to people who do not qualify for an ICT nor a Critical Skills visas. It is the most lengthy and difficult to obtain as the potential employer would have to prove that the employer cannot fil the position with a South African citizen or Permanent resident.

You can start your own business – or purchase an existing business – but for this you will need to obtain a Business Visa and it is issued initially for 3 years and is renewable.

You need to fulfill various requirements, such as:

  • Your business must belong to a sector which is not in the ‘undesirable’ category
  • You need to prove that you are able to invest R5 million in the business
  • You need at least 60% of your employees to be employed in your business in SA to be South African Citizens or PR holders

The proof of compliance to the above listed requirements will have to be submitted within 12 months of issuance of the business visa.

The application for a business visa goes first to the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) which will look at the business plan and other business documents and decide whether to recommend positively or negatively the business by issuing a “Letter of Recommendation” which will be communicated to HA or the SA Representation abroad. This is a very important step as the decision of the DTI will influence greatly the final decision of the relevant authorities to issue the business visa or decline it.

Your parents will need to obtain a “Retired Person Visa” which will allow them to retire to SA for 4 years. To do so, they must prove that they receive a monthly pension equivalent to a minimum of ZAR37, 000. Or, alternatively, a lump sum available of the equivalent of this monthly income for the whole duration of the visa, 4 years.

It is not necessary. One of your parents can be the main applicant and show a pension of ZAR37, 000. and your other parent will come on an “accompanying spouse visa” and does not need to show a pension, it suffice to prove that the main applicant as more than ZAR8, 500. Per month to support his/her spouse.

One can apply for permanent residence based on the following categories:

  • Based on financial independence: One must prove a minimum net worth (assets worldwide) in excess of ZAR 12million. If granted, note that there is a “success fee” of ZAR 120,000.00 payable to HA (Home Affairs).
  • Based on retirement: One would need to prove a monthly income of ZAR 37,000.00 derived from assets (in RSA or abroad).
  • Based on work: For anyone who has been holder of a work permit (ICT doesn’t qualify) for 5 years consecutively and who has received a permanent offer of employment.


It can take anything between 12 to 18 months and HA in Pretoria adjudicates the permanent residence permit.

Your permanent residence will lapse if you leave the country for longer than 3 years consecutively.

Yes, South Africa recognizes life partnership and therefore the life-partner can apply the main applicant (pending that the relationship exists for more than 2 years) and doesn’t need to apply in his/her own right. For the life-partner to be attached to the main applicant and qualify for a “spousal and life partner visa”, the duration of the relationship (2 years/+) must be proven via various means proving cohabitation: common bank account; shared accommodation; affidavit; notarial agreement.

Yes, South Africa is very open in that respect and recognizes same sex marriages. However, same sex marriages applicants will have to provide additional documents such as: in the case of a foreign spousal relationship, proof of official recognition thereof issued by the authorities of the foreign country; notarial agreement attesting that the permanent relationship exists for longer than 2 years; notarial agreement attesting that neither of the parties is a spouse of an existing marriage or of another permanent homosexual or heterosexual relationship.