Cape Town Relocation Guide
General Work Permits
As with a Work Seeker’s Permit, you can’t apply for a General Work Permit within RSA, but only at the South African Embassy in or nearest to your legal country of residence. General Work Permits are a category of Temporary Residence Permits, so you need only apply with one form, the BI-1738 (Application for Temporary Residence). You’ll need to fill out sections 1 through 11, as well as supplementary parts A and F.
However, that may not be as simple as it sounds. As mentioned in the last section, South Africa’s high levels of unemployment (well over 20%, at last census) has led the government to call for extensive proof not only that foreigners looking to work within the Republic are qualified to perform the job they’re applying for, but also that no similarly skilled South Africans has stepped forward even after extensive advertising in the local newspapers.
The BI-1738 requires you to fill in every detail of your educational and employment history, and to include certified copies of your highest educational qualifications, as well as testimonials or certificates of employment from your previous employers. You’ll also need to enclose an application fee of 1520 ZAR. It also requires your would-be employer to indicate the steps they took to find local candidates capable of filling the position, including whether they contacted the Department of Labor or private employment agencies as part of their headhunting process. They will have to attach newspaper clippings proving that they advertised the position, and may be contacted by the Department of Labor to provide the details of unsuccessful candidates.
Once you’ve submitted your application, it will take about 6 to 8 weeks to be processed.
If you’re already employed and are being transferred to the Capetonian offices of your company, your company needs to prove that you are indeed a key member of personnel – examples are CEOs, specialized technical personnel, managing directors and so forth. Along with the BI-1738 forms you’ll need to provide:
- A letter from your current office of employment, explaining to the Department that you’re in their employ and are going to be transferred to an affiliated company or branch in South Africa.
- A letter from the South African branch or company, specifying the capacity in which you’re going to be employed, along with the maximum length of time you’ll be employed in South Africa.
- A decree of divorce, if applicable, along with a proof of maintenance paid to family members.
- A marriage certificate, if applicable.
- Birth certificate(s) of your child/ren, if applicable.
- A medical certificate.
You can view the form online at http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/documents/bi1738.pdf.
If you’re in the film industry, or some other field that requires you to work in South Africa for less than 6 months, you won’t need anything more than a visitor’s permit. If you’re from a country that’s subject to visa control, you’ll have to apply for a visa and an authorization to work on your visitor’s permit at your nearest South African Representative. If it’s approved you’ll receive a visa with the authorization to work endorsed on it. It should allow you to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days, with the option of a 90 day extension if you apply on time. You should apply only once you’ve booked your ticket to Cape Town, as you’ll require proof of the booking.
If you’re from a country exempt from visa control, all you’ll need is a letter from your company or agency stipulating the intended purpose and duration of your visit. The immigration officer should stamp your permit when you arrive, after which it will be valid for the initial period of exemption (30 to 90 days, depending on your nationality), with an allowance for one extension of equal length.