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South African Exceptional Skills Permit
When the South African Department of Home Affairs altered and streamlined various immigration and visa regulations earlier this year, it was determined that two visas, in particular, were considered obsolete. One of these visas is the South African Exceptional Skills Permit and it was repealed. The other visa was the Quota Work Permit.
Ultimately this means that this visa is no longer available for first time applicants and those currently in possession of this visa will not be able to have it renewed but will have to apply for one of the alternative options instead.
I currently hold a South African Exceptional Skills Work Permit. What now?
The bearer of a South African Exceptional Skills Permit, issued before the rule changes of 2014, will be able to continue to work and live in South Africa on the provisions and conditions of that visa until it expires.
Should you be in possession of this visa and wish to remain in the Republic you would have to ensure that you apply for one of the alternative visa options before you current visa expires. Failure to do so will see you, under the amended laws, being declared an undesirable person and you will be barred from entering the country for as long as five years.
Speak to a professional migration consultant to discuss your visa options and procedures. The migration consultant might suggest that you apply for either the Critical Skills or General Work Visa – depending on your particular circumstances.
Your new visa options are:
The South African General Work Visa
This visa allows foreign nationals to work and live in South Africa for up to 5 years after which the visa must be renewed.
Certain conditions apply to this visa. One of these conditions is that the applicant must be able to prove fulltime employment and some kind of employment contract covering the duration of their visa-period.
The South African Critical Skills Visa
This visa aims to attract foreign talent, qualifications and experienced professionals to South Africa's shores. This visa was introduced in an effort to grow the country by enlisting the experience of foreign nationals who hold certain skills identified by the South African government as being essential to the growth of the Republic.
This visa does not require the applicant to have secured employment upon application but they may only work in the field list during their application and for which their visa had been approved.
Make sure your Exceptional Skills Work Visa does not expire before you have a new visa.
Since the South African Exceptional Skills Work Visa no longer exists it cannot be renewed and a fresh application for one of the other South African Visas should be filed.
Without one of the other work visas you would have to leave the country.
Overstaying your visa is also not an option and is considered a serious violation of the country’s immigration laws which could lead to a five-year ban from re-entering the Republic.
Do I qualify for Exceptional Skills Permanent Residency?
Unfortunately the South African Exceptional Skills Visa is not a gateway visa to permanent residency immediately, unless you’ve been on a exceptional skills visa for 5 years. However, should you have held either the General Work Visa or a Critical Skills Visa for five years you would qualify to apply for permanent residency. An additional benefit to those who successfully applied for a South African Critical Skills Visa is that, with proof of experience of more than five years in one of the listed occupations, you would qualify to apply for South African residency immediately.