South African Business Visas

Section 15 – Business Visas

A Business Visa is issued in terms of section 15 of the Immigration Act, read with Regulation 14 of the 2014 Immigration Regulations.

The success of a Business Visa or its renewal or the application for Permanent Residence in terms of the business category invariably require two main aspects to be in place – investment amount of R5 Million and the business to be in the national interest.

A South African Business Visa may be issued to a foreigner who intends to establish his or her own business or invest in an existing business in South Africa. There is a minimum amount of R5 million to be proved as available cash or actual investment from abroad into such business provided such funds are confirmed and certified by a registered accountant in South Africa to remain part of the underlying book value of the business.

There will be The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in South Africa must be satisfied that the business is legitimate in terms of business plans, undertakings for SARS and other registrations, where necessary, and undertakings that a minimum ratio citizens or permanent residents will be employed, in the application process of a business visa.

Our DHA has made fundamental changes to the acquisition or renewal of a Business Visa by first requiring any foreign applicant to demonstrate that the business through its business plan is in the national interest and economically feasible. Therefore, certain sectors of industry in South Africa duly set out in the 2014 Immigration Regulations are considered to be material to local enterprise and development like information technology, call centers, tourism industry, clothing and textile, oil and gas, electro technical and manufacturing.

As noted above, the Business Visa process no longer envisages a single step process but is now determined in two definitive stages:

Stage 1 – The application to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

In this process the foreign applicant will prepare an initial application and direct it to the DTI who will assess certain aspects and contact the applicant with a view to confirming the applicant’s skills and experience, the nature of the business via its Business Plan, whether the business is in the national interest and its economic viability. Where necessary the DTI would visit the premises of the foreign applicant to assess the veracity of the application.

Once the said DTI is satisfied with the application they will supply their recommendation to the DHA wherever the application is being submitted. The DTI will either provide a positive or negative recommendation and then request the applicant to make the application to the DHA.

Note: It is unfortunate that the DTI has been given exclusivity in recommending the application positively or negatively especially when it is clear that the DHA will refuse the application. This is in our considered view to be unlawful and contrary to the Immigration Act and Regulations.

Stage 2  – The application to the DHA in South Africa or the Mission abroad

Once the DTI has applied their minds and determined their position in response to the applicant’s paperwork, he or she will be instructed to submit its Business Visa application at the relevant office abroad or in South Africa.

The applicant will now be expected to prepare the rest of the paperwork and duplicate similar papers for the attention of the DHA as the main application and receive the outcome by the DHA wherever submitted.

Legal Immigration Services are well versed and experienced in successful applications for Business Visas on behalf of its clients. Business Visas are probably the most complex of South African visa acquisition or Permanent Residence.

Note: Foreign persons who seek to conduct business and try and opt for a simpler visa will find difficulty with our Banks who will not permit the opening of a business account for that foreign person without a business visa or of course permanent residence.