As a tourist destination, South Africa is a gorgeous and culturally rich country with something to offer everyone. A South African visa is required for all visitors and migrants who wish to visit, work, study in the country, or join family members or a partner there. There are several types of visas for South Africa you can apply for, and the sort of visa you’ll need depends on your nationality and the reason for your visit to South Africa.
Use the guide to learn more about the requirements for each South African Visa and to make an informed decision on which visa is suitable for your trip.
Types of visas for South Africa
Anyone visiting South Africa for a vacation, visiting family, joining a partner, residing, working, or studying will require a visa. However, specific countries are exempt from this rule.
South African visas are categorized into Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) and Permanent Resident Permit (PRP).
The type of visa you’ll need and the documentation, fees, and processing time required, are all dependent on the reason you’re visiting and the country you’re from. For this reason, you should apply for your visa in advance, as processing times vary greatly between consulates.
Temporary Residence Visa (TRV)
There are various types of Temporary Residence Visa, each with a specific purpose for allowing visitors to enter South Africa for a short period. These are the options you have:
- Visitor’s Visa: limited to 30 or 90 days for tourism.
- Business Visa: allows a person to enter the nation for up to 90 days to work or invest in the economy.
- Study Visa: a visa that allows a person to study at the primary, secondary, or tertiary level for the course duration.
- Exchange Visa: for those under the age of 25 who wish to participate in cultural, social, or economic exchange projects
- General Work Visa: the visa grants entrance to a worker with a specified, in-demand skill set for the duration of their employment contract.
- Relative Visa: allows immediate family members of South African citizens or residents to stay in the country for a maximum of two years at a time.
- Medical Visa: permits six months of medical treatment to be completed.
- Retired Persons Visa: Pensioners with sufficient financial resources can seek to retire in South Africa.
- Tourist visas (eVisa): Citizens of qualifying countries will no longer have to travel to an embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. You’ll only need to fill out a simple online form to apply for the eVisa.
Visas in this category can take up to 60 business days to process, though processing timeframes vary. However, the processing time for a Visitor’s Visa is ten days.
You must meet the following requirements to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa:
- Possess a valid passport with at least two blank pages that expire no more than a month after your anticipated departure date from South Africa.
- Ensure the validity of your Visitor’s Visa.
- Submit your online application and all supporting documentation to any VFS or at the South African embassy located in your home country or place of citizenship
- Provide a certificate of yellow fever vaccination (when applicable)
The Visitor’s Visa does not require the following supporting documents, while all other Temporary Residence Visas do:
- Medical and radiological reports
- Certificates of criminal clearance (not older than six months)
- A completed BI-1738 form (this is not required for a Visitor’s Visa).
Permanent Residence Permit (PRP)
Before applying, candidates must demonstrate to the Minister of Home Affairs that they are not prohibited individuals.
It is crucial to understand that applying for permanent residency in South Africa is a time-consuming and paperwork-intensive process requiring an applicant to live in South Africa for at least five years. The applicant (and spouse, if applicable) must fill out a BI-947 application form and schedule an interview with a Home Affairs officer at a visa facilitation center.
Permanent Residence Permits are available for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- When you have a permanent job offer in South Africa
- You have exceptional skills and qualifications,
- You want to start a business.
- If you qualify as a refugee under the Refugee Act.
- You are entitled as a retired person.
- If you are related to a South African citizen or PRP holder biologically or judicially,
The processing time for Permanent Resident Permits in extraordinary skills, general work, and business is eight months. All other types of Permanent Resident Permits are issued between 12 and 24 months.