How to get a Critical Skills Visa in South Africa

After having successfully managed to secure a work permit in South Africa, I thought I would share my experience with all you hopefuls out there.  It is possible so don’t give up just yet!

But before you start, just be prepared – the process is LONG and FRUSTRATING. And be ready for disappointments too. Not all applications are successful – I was rejected the first time around but thankfully was lucky to get the visa second time.

If you already have a job, the chances of getting the visa are much higher and the process easier too. However, I did not have a job offer and hence, this blog post will primarily document my experience.

I did not have an offer of job and hence, could not apply for the General Work Permit. But I was lucky as my job fell under the Critical Skills list – which had been updated last year! This list is updated regularly (annually I think), and so it is important to check if your occupation also falls under this category, and proceed accordingly.

Step 1:

Check if your occupation falls in the Critical Skills list.

Step 2:

Get your SAQA evaluation. This is a proof of evaluation of the foreign qualification by SAQA and translated by a sworn translator into one of the official languages of the republic.

If you have been educated outside South Africa (most likely to be the case with most of us), then you must submit certified copies of ALL your final certificates and transcripts – undergraduate, masters and any other higher qualification documents.

You will need to fill out an online form, make the payment and then courier or deliver in person all the supporting documents. Once your documents have been authenticated, SAQA will send you their report.

Step 3:

Among the documents required, a police verification certificate (PCC) is probably the one that takes the longest. So get a head start on this one. You need to go to the nearest police station and tell them you have come for a PCC. They will finger print you and make copies of your passport. So remember to carry that. I would also suggest making two copies of your bio page and carrying them along. You will also need to pay a small fee. The police station will then send your data to Pretoria and once the certificate is ready for collection you will get an SMS. You will need to collect the PCC from Pretoria – details of this will be given to you at your police station.

You will also need to get a PCC from each country where you have resided for 12 months or longer after attaining the age of 18 years! So you will have to contact the relevant consulates here in South Africa for those.

Step 4:

Register with a professional body. Although the home affairs website states that only if required by law, one must register with a professional body. However, in my experience this is a prerequisite. So I would definitely advise you to find a professional body that covers your area of expertise and register with them. I have included the list at the bottom of this post.

  • If required by law, proof of application for a certificate of registration with the professional body, council or board recognised by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the national qualifications framework act;
  • A confirmation, in writing, from the professional body, council or board recognised by saqa in terms of section 13(1)(0 of the national qualifications framework act, or any relevant government department confirming the skills or qualifications of the applicant and appropriate post qualification experience, (if not attached, VFS official to check directive 22 of 2014)

The professional body might take a few weeks to issue you with a letter confirming your membership. But do not submit your application without this letter – it might lead to a rejection of your application.

Step 5:

Collect the other documents:

  • A medical report not older than 6 months
  • A radiological report not older than 6 months
  • Marriage certificate or in the case of a foreign spousal relationship, proof of official recognition thereof issued by the authorities of the foreign country of the applicant
  • The affidavit where a spousal relationship to a South African citizen or resident is applicable as well as documentation proving cohabitation and the extent to which the related financial responsibilities are shared by the parties and setting out the particulars of children in the spousal relationship
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to the value of a minimum of R3 000 in the form of three months bank statements
  • A written undertaking by the applicant to ensure that the passport of the applicant shall be valid at all times for the duration of his or her temporary visa)
  • A yellow fever vaccination certificate if that person travelled or intends travelling from or transiting through a yellow fever endemic area:

IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A JOB, you need to also submit the below:

  • Offer letter clearly stating your position – should match the critical skill you are applying under
  • A written undertaking by the employer accepting responsibility for the costs related to the deportation of the applicant and his or her dependent family members, should it become necessary
  • A written undertaking by the employer to ensure that the passport of his or her employee is valid at all times for the duration of his or her employment

Step 6:

Fill the online form, pay the fees and get an appointment

Step 7:

Add a cover letter. Although this is not on the list of documents, I realised that adding a cover letter that states clearly the critical skill you are applying under, really helps. Despite having specified everything very clearly on the form, my visa application was rejected the first time and the reason given was that I had not specified the critical skill!!

Step 8:

Keep your fingers crossed and pray hard!

Official processing time is about +/- 8 weeks but it is usually a minimum of 8 weeks, going upwards.

Important websites and links:
















33 thoughts on “How to get a Critical Skills Visa in South Africa

  1. Congrats, very valuable information as well! From what I have been reading, it seems Home Affairs is doing a bit better lately. I flew back to Paris to do my Critical Skills visa in Sept as all my colleagues were having issues here (still are) and got it in 8 days. We just applied for PR last week based on Critical Skills (pretty much all the same documents) so we will see how that goes, hopefully it will be a matter of months and not years!

  2. Hi there

    We are having the same issues regarding a rejection. Could you please shed some light on whom exactly you made contact with to appeal the rejection? Absolutely devastated, as I am sure you know the entire application process is a stressful one and for it to be rejected is even more stressful!

    Essentially, All the relevant sections were adhered to including the SAQA verification and the IBASA certification under the heading of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) as a business analyst with six years’ proven work experience.

    The application was rejected “based on the qualifications you provided do not fall in to the category of critical skills.” Understand our confusion at this time as IBASA certified him as a business analyst, stating that he meets the requirements for a critical skills visa.

    1. Hi Jenna, really sorry to hear about your experience. I totally understand the frustration and trauma. I did not appeal – I made a new application with the same documents. But what I added was a cover letter stating clearly the critical skill I was applying under and my supporting education qualifications. Deloitte, who were my consultants were of the opinion that an appeal would take longer and it was better to just make a new application instead. Maybe you guys can also look it the same. All the best – it seems to work out the second time around.

      1. Hi Namz. Can you use copies of the original documents when you apply for the second time around? I also understand that an appeal does take long and I am weighing my options.

    2. Hi Jenna,
      I am going through exactly what you are going through. The whole process has been a nightmare. I may be able to give you some advice that i got from my lawyer. Let me know and I will send you my email address.

      1. Hi Sara, could you please send me your emailaddress? I am looking forward to get some tips/advise. I received a rejection yesterday too. Does not fall in the category critical skill. Do not understand, going for an appeal. All necessary information is provided. Looking forward to hear from you.

      2. Sara, I am in the same situation. My application for critical skills was rejected and I handed in an appeal. Could you Please send me your emAiladdress (mine:, so I can send you more info?


        Pim Bijtel

      3. Hi Sara and everyone, I am currently in the same both the feed back for my rejection is that “the applicant employer does not fall under bpo” I applied for a critical skills as Business Analyst with assessment from IITPSA. I need someone to explain to me how to approach the rejection. Thanks in advance

    3. Hi Jenna,

      I can feel your pain. I used the same body as you and I am very skeptical about my application. What qualifications do you have? How did it turn out for you in the end? Did you reapply?

  3. Hi Sara/Namz,

    Could you please send me some advice to my email Address as I am going through the same hassle

  4. Please would you assist me with a copy of the cover letter you mentioned in step 7 of your article. I just need an idea of the contents of the letter. If you are comfortable with a copy of the one you submitted that would be fantastic. My email address is Thanks

  5. Good read. I have gone through the process (first time application and extension) without an immigration lawyer. I have a few comments
    1. It is easier to get the one year critical skill visa without a contract.
    2. On your first application where you had not selected the critical skill. This requires you to print out part of the official critical skills list and highlight the skill and its category.
    3. Applications are far much easier when you are in South Africa. Processing time is approx 2 weeks from experience.
    4. On the professional body side, one definitely needs the confirmation of membership letter or the membership certificate. In addition, the professional body needs to verify your critical skills. In the case that your qualifications (apparently they only consider the undergraduate degree not postgraduate degrees except PhD from SA universities) are from a South African university, then the university (get the letter from your department) can verify your critical skills because South African universities are recognised as a SAQA as a body or council.

    I hope this helps any future applicants

    1. Wow Thanks George this part is so useful, I am currently studying is SA, B Com Hons Information Systems, and I did my undergrad here. The professional body said they cannot issue me a proof of my critical skill… but this part of your post may save me a lot of stress:

      In addition, the professional body needs to verify your critical skills. In the case that your qualifications (apparently they only consider the undergraduate degree not postgraduate degrees except PhD from SA universities) are from a South African university, then the university (get the letter from your department) can verify your critical skills because South African universities are recognised as a SAQA as a body or council.

  6. Hie guys, You definitely need to print the pages of the critical skills list where you qualify and highlight or underline the skills. you also need to make sure that you have the critical skills assessment letter and the membership certificate. What George has said is very important and more often than not things will come out well. From my experience and those of friends, the processing time is from 2 weeks to one month. All the best to all future applicants.

    I think there is no need to use lawyers or agents if you are able to get the documents as listed on the VFS website .

    I know that they insist on applying from your home country or outside SA. All the best.

  7. Hi George,how about submitting a proof of application with a professional body as instruction by Department of Home Affairs ,in a situation where you are still expecting your certificate?

    1. Hi micah – in my opinion you should wait for the actual certificate to come. I have known of instances that the proof was not good enough although the DHA says it’s enough.

    1. It’s not really my position to suggest how you should proceed. I can only give you tips on what has worked in the past. You will have to apply for an extension as per the DHA regulations. And if it’s a renewal, then I don’t think you should need to submit a professional body certificate again? Are you changing your visa category?

  8. Hi,

    I am Software Quality Analyst and want to apply for Critical work visa. But my field lies under BPO category instead of ICT. I don’t want to work in a BPO call center type environment.

    I fear, if I apply as Quality Analyst under BPO category then I will not be able to find a job in a pure Software Company.

    Kindly clear my query.


  9. Hi Namz, I had applied for Critical Visa Extension and my visa extension got rejected as ‘the applicant must register with relevant professional body’. Can you please let me know what is professional body and what documents do I need to submit ..?

    1. Hi kalyan, the professional body is the same one you must have registered for when you applied for the first time. There is a list of bodies mentioned on the website about critical skills. I can’t tell you which one it would be because it depends on the skill you are applying for.

  10. Hi All, I applied for a critical skills visa for Pick N Pay. After a long process my application was rejected yesterday 😦 > my skill does not fall in the category that is critical. I will become Divisional Head of Butchery at Pick N Pay Head Office reporting to the General Manager Fresh. I included a signed contract, SAQA eveluation form and all the other necessary files. EnsAfrica helped me with the application and I really did not expect this.

    We are now preparing the appeal. Could somebody give me some tips how to do the appeal? My critical skill category is business economics management studies > corporate general manager. Looking for a laywer / advisor / experienced person who can tell me exactly how to hand in the appeal.

  11. Hi all,

    is there any way we can be sure that our skill falls under the critical skills list. I am a Certified Fraud Examiner with more than 5 years of experience. I am registered with ACFE which is a professional body approved by SAQA. Does that mean that my skill will fall under the critical skills list.
    Any Idea if Fraud Investigation is under the critical skills list?


  12. Hi All,

    My CSV rejected saying
    1. Proof of accommodation not provided during the stay
    2. Insufficient fund during the stay
    on the VFS website or DHA, on the checklist of docs, it’s not mentioned that one need to attach proof of accommodation. Also, I have ensured the fund (Account balance) was more than enough but that was not consistent for straight 3 months, that kept of varying.
    Please suggest


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