There are four categories of South African work permit available to a foreigner each with its own unique set of specific requirements over and above certain generic requirements. The South African work permit categories are as follows:
  • Quota Work Permit
  • General Work Permit
  • Exceptional Skills Work Permit
  • Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit

Quota work permit

A quota work permit is issued to a foreigner who falls within a specific professional category or occupational class determined by the Minister of Home Affairs at least annually by notice in the Government Gazette after consultation with the Ministers of Labour and Trade and Industry. The latest quota list is available here.

The fundamental basis for this consultation process is to establish special categories of needed skills in specific targeted industries based on a needs assessment on current skills deficiencies by the Departments of Labour and Trade and Industry.

These quotas are available on demand and will form the basis of the application. Applicants will be required to have their qualifications assessed by SAQA and confirmation of securing employment must be submitted to Home Affairs within 90 days of admission.

General work permit

A general work permit is available to foreigners not falling within any specific category or class of quota permits.

The basis of a general work permit is that a firm offer of employment has been made by a prospective employer to a foreigner after such employer has unsuccessfully exploited the local labour market in attempting to procure the needed skills, experience or qualifications equivalent of such foreigner.

The process involved in successfully acquiring a general work permit ,inter alia, requires a series of necessary interventions with SAQA, proof of advertising for locals and labour benchmarking certificates.

Exceptional Skills work permit

An exceptional skills work permit may be issued to a foreigner who possesses exceptional skills or qualifications and is able to demonstrate with supporting documentation in the form of testimonials, publications, a letter of motivation to substantiate the benefits that those skills will bring to the South African environment. This permit is granted for 3 years and may be renewed for a further period, if required.

Intra-company transfer work permit

An intra-company transfer work permit is issued to a foreigner who is normally deployed or seconded to a South African branch, subsidiary or associate office of a corporate entity abroad.

There are strict controls to ensure that the foreigner remains employed in his or her specific position during the tour of duty and such permit is valid for 2 years only.