What is the change? The South African Department of Home Affairs has published the list of employment categories and classes that qualify for the new Critical Skills Work Visa.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals with qualifications or skills falling within the parameters of one of the critical-skills categories or classes may apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa, which may be issued for up to five years.

  • Implementation timeframe: The list was published June 3.
  • Visas/permits affected: Critical Skills Work Visa.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals possessing critical skills or qualifications falling within the parameters of one of the critical skills categories or classes.
  • Impact on processing times: 
  • Business impact: Businesses stand to benefit because 167 critical-skills occupations and 47 for academics and researchers have been identified. The advantage of the Critical Skills Work Visa is that there is no need to go through the onerous labor certification process which is required for a General Work Visa application.
  • Next steps: Foreign nationals who require a work visa for South Africa should assess whether or not they fall within the parameters of one of the critical-skills categories or classes.

Background: The publication of the critical-skills categories follows recent major amendments to South African immigration legislation which came into force last week. The Critical Skills Work Visa and the associated critical-skills list are a very positive development. With approximately 214 critical skills listed, ranging from actuaries to sheep shearers, the scope is broad and provides businesses with many diverse options. The broader critical-skills classifications include professions in the fields of agriculture, architecture, business and business process outsourcing, IT and communications, engineering, health and clinical sciences, life and earth sciences, academia and trades. Another advantage is that there is no quota assigned to each category or class.

The Critical Skills Work Visa essentially replaces the previous Quota Work Permit and is very similar in principle. Foreign nationals whose skills or experience fall within one of the categories or classes, must obtain a confirmation of their qualifications in writing from a professional body, council or board recognized by the South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA), or any relevant government department. The qualifications must also be evaluated by SAQA, and, if required by law, applicants must provide proof of registration with a relevant body, board or council.

BAL Analysis: The list provides an important planning tool for employers to use in determining if foreign assignees fall under any of the critical-skills categories, as the requirements for the Critical Skills Work Visa are much less onerous than those for the General Work Visa, which requires certification from the South African Department of Labor.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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