What is the change? A new Critical Skills List of occupations that foreign nationals are eligible to fill is scheduled to be released in April. While it is expected to be more restrictive than the current list, it is hoped that our advocacy efforts on behalf of businesses will be considered before the final list is published.

What does the change mean? Employers should plan for elimination of some roles that are available to foreign nationals, especially broader business categories such as corporate general manager and business analyst. On the other hand, job roles in the oil, gas and marine sectors are expected to be added to the list. Employers should also be aware that an unpublished draft of the list from September 2018 seems to have been circulating, and some South African embassies and consulates may already be tightening their issuance of Critical Skills visas based on it.

  • Implementation time frame: The government is expected to publish the new list in April.
  • Visas/permits affected: Critical Skills visas.
  • Business impact: Companies should anticipate that the new Critical Skills List is likely to exclude general managerial roles. Additionally, the new list is expected to name the professional bodies with which foreign candidates in different job titles must be registered in order to work in South Africa.

Background: The Critical Skills visa is available to foreign nationals with qualifications, skills and experience determined to be critical for the economy. The Department of Home Affairs publishes the Critical Skills List periodically. The current list, which contains about 211 categories, was published in June 2014. One of the benefits of the list for companies is that it does not require labor market testing.

Analysis & Comments: The South African government is seeking to attract foreign investment and expertise while also encouraging companies to hire and train South African workers. Immigration authorities are therefore looking to refine the Critical Skills List to jobs that are truly specialized and critical to the economy and in short supply among the local labor force. We provided input to the government regarding the proposed list in September 2018 and advocated expansion of the Critical Skills List. However, the proposed list has not been finalized, and we hope that the final published list takes into account our comments. If the proposed version becomes final without change, companies that have relied on Critical Skills visas for senior managerial roles should anticipate narrowing of the list and may need to find alternatives, such as the General Work Visa, which involves a lengthier process and labor market certification from the Department of Labor.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.