I summarised this whole process in a video so feel to watch this if you want to get an overview of the process:
South Africa’s government is on the search for skilled labour. In fact, the Department of Home Affairs released a white paper , that offers recommendations on immigration policies to make it easier for skilled foreigners to get a critical skills visa and for foreign students studying in South Africa to stay and work after they graduate. You can find out more about this white paper here.
PS: If you are a studying toward a critical skills degree in South Africa, you may as well apply for Permanent Residency instead. Find out more here.
In South Africa, it is very difficult to get a job if you a foreigner with no citizenship or some form of a work permit or permanent residence. However, if you have a scarce skill, you can apply for a Critical Skills Visa. This visa allows you to enter and stay in South Africa for 12 months while you look for a job. If you find a job within 12 months, you can extend your Critical Skills Visa for up to 5 years. Because of this visa, some employers are willing to give you a job offer if you qualify for a critical skill. Therefore, you can also apply for a Critical Skills Visa with a job offer and receive a 5 year visa.
I have gone through the critical skills visa application process and with some research, the following are the steps one should take when applying for this visa.
I am Zimbabwean so these requirements are based on information I received from VFS Harare office and other (mostly) Zimbabweans who have gone through the system. I have noticed that other countries may have slightly different requirements…so maybe call your embassy or VFS centre to ask for clarification on some of the points I listed.
1. Verify That Your Profession is on the Critical Skills List
You can find the list of critical skills South Africa is seeking in this gazette on page 12. Check this list to see if your profession/qualifications match any of those listed on the Critical Skills list… If you have a match, congrats we can move on with the rest of the application process.
2. Get SAQA to Evaluate your Qualifications for a Critical Skills Visa
If you obtained your degree or qualifications from outside South Africa, you will need them to be evaluated by SAQA. You can do this on the SAQA website where you will need to create a new profile (on the left panel) and proceed from there. SAQA will then ask you to post the following documents (you can’t email):
- Completed application form
- Certified copies of your Academic documents (Degree certificate, transcript, etc. )
- Certified copy of your ID or Passport
- Proof of payment of application fee
- Consent Form for the release of information
If the language on your documents is not English, you need to accompany the documents with a sworn English translation. The processing period varies from 4 weeks to 4 months :/ and the postal service is quite slow so do yourself a favour and use a courier like DHL or FedEx to send your documents. I also advise you to periodically follow up on your application to make sure it’s not just gathering dust for some dumb reason.
3. Register With A Professional Body/Council Recognised By SAQA
This is arguably the worst step during this whole process. The professional body will be responsible for assessing your critical skill and determine whether you have enough post-graduate work experience to qualify for the critical skill.
Each profession listed under the critical skills list has at least one professional body/council/board that covers it and you can find a list of some professional bodies here. Not all professional bodies are on this list so you can also just ask Google or on this Expat Forum if you are still unsure. Before you register with the professional body, first verify that it is recognised by SAQA.
Each professional body has its own unique set of requirements for registering. Some are strict on work experience, some require a letter of employment (which doesn’t make sense because you need this to get employment), etc. In my case, I could use ECSA, IITPSA or ICITP which needed my academic qualifications, CV and reference letters from past employers. The processing times vary depending on the professional body in question. ECSA takes about 4 weeks to several months, IITPSA 4-6 weeks and ICITP 2-3 weeks.
Your professional body should give you at least a membership certificate or letter. However, some bodies like ICITP offer critical skills assessments where they will assess your skills and experience and give you extra supporting documents confirming your work experience and critical skill.
4. Proof of Sufficient Financial Means.
You will need to prove that you can take care of yourself in South Africa before you get employed. Therefore, you must provide a 3-month bank statement that meets the following requirements:
- The bank statement must be stamped and the date on the stamp must not be older than 7 days on the day of submission.
- Must have a monthly income.
- The minimum balance must be enough to support you while you are in SA; i.e the bank account in question must maintain a minimum balance of at least R3000 over the 3 months.
- It must be a current/checking account (not a savings or investment account (because these don’t typically have immediate access. I found out the hard way)
If the bank statement does not have your name on it (if you are using someone else’s bank statement) then you must also provide the following together with the bank statement:
- A certified copy of the ID/Passport of the owner of the bank account.
- A signed letter of undertaking by the owner of the bank account saying that they will be supporting you financially during your stay in South Africa.
- (conditional) A certified copy of a valid visa or residence permit if the owner of the bank is a foreigner residing in South Africa. For example, if your uncle/friend has permanent residency in South Africa, you will need to provide a certified copy of their ID/Passport and permanent residency permit/certificate.
5. Proof of Accommodation
You will need to provide proof of accommodation in South Africa. This could be in the form of a utility bill, lease agreement, etc. accompanied by a letter of undertaking from the host. You must also provide a certified copy of that host’s ID/Passport. If the host is not a citizen of SA, you must provide a certified copy of their relevant visa or permanent residence certificate.
6. (Optional) Contract of Employment & Other Supporting Documents
If you are applying for a Critical Skills Visa with a job offer, you will need the following documents:
- A signed Offer Letter.
- Contract of Employment signed by both parties (each page must have your initials)
- Letter of undertaking from the employer stating that they will ensure that your passport remains valid for the duration of your employment and they accept responsibility for deportation costs should it become necessary.
NB!! The job title on your offer letter and employment contract must be exactly the same as the title of the critical skill that you are applying for AND the critical skill (or profession) on the documents provided by your professional body.
7. Prepare Miscellaneous Supporting Documents
The Following Are The Remainder of the Documents Needed for Your Critical Skills Visa Application:
- Completed DHA-1738 form (handwritten not printed)
- Passport with at least 2 blank pages and must expire no less than 30 days after the intended date of departure to SA.
- Certified copy of your birth certificate.
- 2 passport sized photos (see requirements)
- An extract from the government gazette (just the one page with your critical skill on) with the critical skill you are applying for circled clearly.
- Cover letter with your personal details (Name, Address, DOB, Contact details) specifying that you are applying for a Critical Skills Visa.
- Medical Certificate (Use this form) This must be no older than 6 months at the time of submission.
- Radiological report (Use this form) This must be no older than 6 months at the time of submission.
- Police Clearance Certificate from every country that you have lived in for at least 12 months since you turned 18 years.
- Updated CV.
- At least 2 reference/recommendation/testimonial letters from previous employees.
- Yellow Fever vaccination certificate if you will travel through or have been to a yellow fever region.
- Academic qualifications (degrees, transcripts, certificates, etc.)
The Following Documents are Conditional:
- Marriage certificate or in the case of a foreign spousal relationship, proof of official recognition thereof issued by the authorities of the country concerned if available
- The affidavit where a spousal relationship to a South African citizen or resident is applicable, as well as documentation proving cohabitation and the extent to which the related financial responsibilities are shared by the parties and setting out the particulars of children in the spousal relationship
- Divorce decree, where applicable
- Court order granting full or specific parental responsibilities and rights, where applicable
- A death certificate, in respect of a late spouse, where applicable
- Written consent from both parents and a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights parent, where applicable
- Proof of legal adoption where applicable
- Legal separation order, where applicable
The Following Documents Have Already Been Addressed In The Steps Above:
- (Optional) Contract of Employment signed by both parties if you have already secured employment
- (Optional) A written undertaking by the employer accepting responsibility for the costs related to the deportation of the applicant and his or her dependent family members, should it become necessary and to ensure that the passport of his or her employee is valid at all times for the duration of his or her employment
- Proof of evaluation of the foreign qualification by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator into English
- A confirmation, in writing, from the professional body, council or board recognized by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act, or any relevant government Department confirming the skills Qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience.
- Proof of application for a certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognized by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of sufficient financial means (Bank statement)
For my own application, I added the following documents although they are not officially stated under the visa requirements. Several reliable sources told me it would increase my chances of getting the critical skills visa. I’m guessing it’s to show that I’m serious about working in SA?
- Flight from Harare to Cape Town scheduled on the day I expected to travel to South Africa.
- Hotel reservation for the first 30 days of my stay in South Africa.
8. Submit Your Critical Skills Visa Application
Depending on your country, you will have to submit your visa application at an SA Embassy, Consulate, or VFS Centre. If you stay in any of the following countries, you have to submit application at your nearest VFS Centre:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- New Zealand
- People’s Republic of China
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- United Kingdom (UK)
If your country is listed above, visit the VFS website for your country for more details. You will probably have to book an appointment online, pay a VFS fee and then when you go for your appointment you will be asked to pay another fee and that’s it! If your country is not listed above, you will have to submit your application at the nearest Embassy or Consulate. You will find a list of all South African Embassies on this page. Contact the embassy and ask for details on how to submit your visa application.
9. Wait Patiently While Your Application is Being Processed
Depending on your country, the situation at the Department of Home Affairs, time of the year, alignment of the stars and the mood of your ancestors, your visa may take as little as 3 weeks or up to 6 months to process. I’m from Zimbabwe and it takes 4-6 months to process this visa but is sometimes takes longer. Unfortunately, you cannot get a detailed status update on your visa application; sometimes they may contact you to ask for a document or two to proceed with the process.NB: My visa took exactly 16 weeks to process.
NB: Some Things To Note
- If you have questions regarding any part of this process, comment on this article or on ExpatForum.
- The job title on your contract must be exactly the same as the title of the critical skill that you are applying for AND the critical skill on the documents provided by your professional body.
- Your visa applications can be rejected for many reasons but some preventable ones include:
- insufficient funds; where the bank statement you provided doesn’t show a monthly income or has a low balance, etc.
- the occupation on your contract/letter from your professional body does not correspond to the critical skill you applied for.
- Not specifying which critical skill you applied for. That’s why must include a cover letter AND an extract of the government gazette with your critical skill circled.
- Not enough work experience: if your CV doesn’t show your experience; you left out reference letters; no letter from your professional body that shows that you have enough work experience and have a critical skill. Sometimes a membership certificate may not be enough depending on your critical skill.
- If rejected, you can appeal or follow-up with VFS to get more detailed reasons why your application was rejected. You should also make use of the forums I mentioned above (ExpatForum or Embassy-Finder)
How was the application for ICITP
Did you only submit your documents or did they ask anything else , I mean did they call and ask anything about your profession or did they make an interview etc ?
Hie ..if i dont have a bank statement or a salary but i have SA friends who can gimme me their bankstatements an ID s will that surfice ??
This has been very helpful and thank you for taking your time and effort to do this. I recently completed BCom Hons Internal Audit at a South African tertiary institution. I got a job offer to work as a Solutions Architect (which is a critical skill under IT) but my qualifications are BComm related. Is it possible for me to register with IITPSA and also apply for the visa without any complications?
Your assistance would be greatly appreciated
Thank you so much for this informative post!
Can I ask if you have to apply for ICITP certificate every year while holding critical skills visa?
Hi Tino, Many thanks for this wonderful piece. I have just been offered a job in SA and interesting I have most of the requirements you suggested except for the letter from the professional body I’m expecting. My concern now is if it is possible to fall into more than one of the critical skills. For example, I have a foreign PhD in Economics which falls under Academics and Researchers- Doctoral Graduates (Acquired abroad) and other one is Business, Economics and Management Studies – where I have a professional certificate by The Institute of Risk Management South Africa. Another concern… Read more »
Hi, is DHA just as strict with study permits ? my cousin has given me 4 months bank statements. On most days she had above 12,000 rands but 2 day’s in November she only had 2000rands because of some urgent expenses we had to pay, could this stop me from getting a study permit ? there isn’t anyone else I can ask unfortunately.
Hie Tino thank you so much for this piece. Just wanted to find out if i need a SAQA evaluation for an international certificate like Cisco and City & Guilds. I went to the SAQA offices and they confirmed i don’t need to do an evaluation for international certificates. Now the issue i’m having is every board needs a SAQA evaluation before starting the process. So i dont know if you have advice that could me with this.
Hi Tino, when securing a job within 1 year, do I need to find a job with same designation of which I have applied in CSV? Or any other job also valid for securing the visa?
In my case I’m qualified under General Business Manager, do I need to find a job with same designation? What if I get a job with the designation of Finance Manager?
i am a memeber of IITPSa and do i need the letter confirming my degree is a critical skill
This is such a great blog post, if only the government could employ people who could communicate clearly like you, we wouldn’t have to waste so much time Googling “how to do X”.
It’s hard to find experienced people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks| а
That’s extremely informative. Thanks a million
Hi Tino. Thanks so much for your informative blog. I am currently in SA and now wants to extend my initial 12 months critical skills visa. What are the requirements , its seems as if i am getting conflicting information from Home Affairs and VFS. I phoned VFS and they said that i should use the list on their website and add on the medical and radiological reports but no police clearance report is required. when i phoned the Home affairs the lady there said i only need the employer offer letter. When i initially applied for the 12 months… Read more »
I hold a national certificate from harare polytechnic. Do i qualify for a critical skills VISA? I do have 4 years experience in the IT industry. Is there a minimum requirement on qualifications, like a Bachelor’s Degree for me to obtain a critical skills VISA??
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
PS: thanks for the very useful article!
Do you work with Amazon
Is SA companies hire foreigners or it is difficult for foreigners to find job in SA ?
because i see i pnet.co.za web site that companies excite to hire SA citizens .
Hi Tino. Thanks for clearly outlining the CSV application process. Suppose you include an airplane ticket in your application just to enhance chances and then later cancel it after submitting the application. Would it be wise to do this? Also lets say you have stated in your application that you will be staying with a relative….would it be wise to include a hotel reservation too? What do you recommend? -Eli
Hi Tino, I just wanted to say thanks for providing such a detailed description of the CSV application process. It was incredibly helpful! I appreciate you taking the time to share. -Rose
Hi Tino I have been following on your old response on this thread trying to make sure I won’t repeat a question which was already answered but I guess my case is a little different I recently graduated from a University in China with BSc (Eng.) Computer Science and Technology I have been in contact with VSF here in China and I look forward to apply for CSV right now I am at a stage of acquiring SAQA NQF certificate I have submitted my documents for evaluation and I have also been in contact with IITPSA and from the requirements… Read more »
Can i apply for CRITICAL SKILLS VISA with Associate degree(2 years university) or need Bachelor degree ?
I have a Associate degree in software developing( 2 years university ), can i apply for critical work visa or need Bachelor degree ?
So here noting the change in currencies Zimbabwe has just undergone, would you know if it changed the money you should be having in your account and also if you really need to have 3 months worth of money in the account as life in Zimbabwe is not for keeping money in your account.
I’d like to know what kind of membership you had with IITPSA. I believe I only currently qualify for student membership. Will that be accepted by the DHA?
Hey broe howzit? This is a very helpful article but I have got some questions. I have lived in Cape Town for a year as a language school student but I came back home at the moment(Turkey). I want to apply for critical skills visa. I’m a mechanical engineer and I just graduated last year. So I do not have any job experience but I have done 3 different internships in 3 different companies. Anyway The South African Embassy in Turkey has told me to show a job offer or a contract to apply for critical skills visa but apparently… Read more »
Hope you are doing well.
Thank you so much for such a detailed information.
I am applying for a CSV in South Africa,but have certain doubts, please guide me.
Can a fresh post graduate in Electrical Engineerig(One of the critical skills) apply for a CSV?
Does Transcriptof 4 years of undregraduate course required, if my highest qualification is post graduation?
Also, if I opt for dependant visa (on husbands work visa), can I search for a job once I am there?
Waiting for your reply,
Thanks in advance!
I have a critical skills work visa and soon to start a job in SA. I would want my wife and kid (school going) to join me in SA maybe sometime in 2019. Do you know the anything about the kind of visa that they have to apply for?
Hi Tino , thanks man for the post it really helped me a lot – hope we hook up soon for a few drinks.. Please bear with me , this post was originally meant for the expat forum but the admin couldnt post it (maybe its because its too long ) so i have directed the guys at the expat forum to read this thread at your page. hi, collected positive outcome today .applied on the 19th of April under electrical engineering technician , I had done my SAQA evaluation in 2018 with hopes to study with UNISA (bachelor of… Read more »
Thanks Tino. Quick one, do international qualifications also have to be SAQA verified when applying for critical skills visa? (eg Cisco certifications and those for foreign languages) or its just those qualifications attained at local institutions…
Hello guys.thanks for the informative discussion.Please assist me .Is the ‘Cover letter’ a particular format , is there a template for it which can be downloaded?
Hi Tino thanks for posting this. I acquired a critical skills visa and have now secured a job.
Would you know the documents required to extend the critical skills visa to five years.
I am getting a lot of conflicting information from VFS.
They seem to want a list as comprehensive as the initial documentation I used to acquire my current CSV, don’t I just need to confirm employment now.
Hey man, thanks for the article, very helpful. Quick question, how strict are they on qualifications? Say you don’t have a degree but you have a basic certificate but have work experience. How would one go about it
Thanks for this great post Tino! It looks like a part of the article might be missing. If you can offer any further advice on the part where you say the following, that would be helpful… “For my own application, I added the following documents although they are not officially stated under the visa requirements. Several reliable sources told me it would increase my chances of getting the critical skills visa. I’m guessing it’s to show that I’m serious about working in SA?” Which documents are you referring to? Additionally I have posted on ExpatForum. Would be great to hear… Read more »
Thanks so much for this post, it really helped! I’m in the process of securing all my documents to apply at IITSA (I would’ve joined ICITP, but it doesn’t seem they evaluate for Business Analysis skills). I trust that God will open doors for everyone though, myself included.
Also, just for anyone else that also studied in SA, I hear we are in better positions to apply for Permanent Residence, so that’s worth checking out as well if the Critical Skills route doesn’t play out well. I personally just want the temporary visa before looking at attaining PR.
If I am using someone with a PR’s account ,is it true that a balance of R30 000 is required on the bank statements when submitting my application.
Hi Tino, Thanks for sharing your experience with us on this process of applying for the CSV. I am an engineer and I have been registered with ECSA in the professional level. I did SAQA and prepared all other required documents. I have an issue now with one thing, to certify the documents, especially ECSA certificates. The local SA Embassy assisted me with the SAQA certificate but they won’t help me with the ECSA copy coz it is a print out. ECSA sent out a link to my certificate and offered me to “print it on cardboard to create an… Read more »
Thanks for such a detailed description of the process. I’ve been struggling to find one, with different document requirements on different sites so this summary is great!
In the case of having an employer, one has to provide a letter taking responsibility for deportation costs. Where there is no employer, any idea as to how this would work? Would it mean you’d need more money in your bank account or have proof of a return ticket instead of a one-way?
Any advice would be great!
Thank you for the informative piece regarding the Critical Skills VISA process. My boyfriend is Egyptian and we’re in the process of applying for the visa but he has been told here in Egypt that he needs a contract of employment before he can apply. He is financially able to support himself while he looks for a job so is it really true that he needs a contract before he can apply?
Thanks in advance for your help.
Hi Tino. Thanks for this wonderful informative blog. I applied for a CSV for Desktop Suppot Engineer in the beginning of November and until now it hasn’t come out. How long can I expect to hear a response from VFS Global and suppose I do get it, how can I go about getting a job in S.A.?
Hi Tino Thanks for an informative write up, a quick question. I graduated from UNISA last October and am looking to applying for CSV. I want to register with either the IITPSA or ICITP, I am currently based here in SA on a Zim amnesty permit and i have a job offer letter for a job on the critical skills. Is the job offer letter enough to send to the board requesting a critical skills letter. Any suggestions on how i can increase my chances of getting a critical skills letter from the board. I see that IITPSA requires 24… Read more »
Thanx Tino for this informative page. I need to to know whether the recommendation letters should be stamped or not? Also what if you have worked for one company, is one recommendation enough? Any idea?
i worked in south Africa, Johannesburg as quality analyst in ABSA bank of 2 years through one of Indian MNC IT company of ICT visa, however i am currently in India, wanted to apply CSV from here and i don’t have PCC of south Africa, can i go for it and apply visa for the same ?
Hey, I am looking for applying for CSV but want to know if I can if I am currently working for a company but have provided employer letters of another company who will be sponsoring my visa.
Thanks for the informative article. What if you have not been employed before? I just graduated and will therefore not have the two letters / testimonials from past employers.
When you submit your application do you submit your passport with it like what is required for the study visa or you keep it
Hey there. This doesn’t have to do with the application process but maybe you’re able to help me. I successfully got my critical skills 2 years ago. I’m looking like change employment. Same job title but different employer. My current employers name isn’t on my permit but is linked to my permit at department of labor. Would you know what the procedure is to get my new employer linked to my permit now?
On bank Statements for CSV, Does one need to Submit the zimbabwean Bank Statements with SA Host Banks Statements or The Sa Host bank Statements are Enough?
Hie Tino. Thank you for taking your time to share with us .
Thank you for sharing. If you may clarify,
– does it mean I can use a letter from my board that states I am yet to receive my certificate, for visa application
– does the critical skills letter from my board affect anything in my visa application process if I do have it or not
– I would also like to apply for an accompanying visa for two of my family members. Should I do it simultaneously as I apply for my csv or I should first get my csv then do the accompanying visa later