South African work permits and visa options for immigration to South Africa
South Africa’s regulations and success criteria for immigration to South Africa as a work permit or visa holder can seem complex to prospective immigrants and employers. For work permits alone there are 5 different categories.
With the United Kingdom moving over to a points based system of immigration, similar to Australia, this style of requirements has become the norm and made South Africa’s immigration rules pertaining to work permits and visas all the more confusing.
The main categories of work permits and visa are:
Intra company Transfers – individuals that are required to move within their existing or associated company to take up a temporary position in the South African operation should apply within this category.
Quota Work Permit – South Africa has a skills shortage in certain professions and this is recognized by the Department of Labor. Periodically it is reviewed in terms of current human resource conditions and revised. For individuals with the appropriate qualifications and experience they may apply for a quota work permit. The huge advantage of a quota work permit is that it can be issued prior to the individual getting a job offer – making the job search much easier.
Exceptional skills permit – assessed on a case by case basis this permit applies to individuals who have unique skills, experience and qualifications.
Individual Corporate workers permit – many organisations have a need to recruit a number of foreigners, be it due to a skill shortage in South Africa or because of a unique requirement to carry out the role (for example foreign language requirement). The company is able to apply for a corporate permit which gives them permission to recruit a specified number of individuals for specified roles. Companies which hold these permits can then apply for individual corporate workers permit for their foreign staff.
General work permits – Applicants who do not fit under the other 4 categories must apply for a general work permit. General work permits cannot be applied for until a job offer is received and it should be noted that the employer had to provide proof that they have undertaken certain actions in searching for a suitable South African before offering the position to a foreigner.
Corporate Permits – Companies can preempt the immigration process by applying for a corporate permit. This permit is suited to companies that have a number of vacancies that they envisage they may have to fill with foreign employees over the next 2 – 3 years.
With global competition for skilled labor, and the travel mind set of people, immigration is forming an integral part of employers and employees recruitment strategies. Knowing the correct permit can only be of help and often give the employer and employee the edge in getting the desired result.