A South African study visa allows a foreign national to reside in the Republic whilst studying at a South African institution of primary, secondary or tertiary education.

Any student who intends to study at a primary or secondary school (whether public or independent), college, further education and training institution, university, specialist skills school or other “learning institution” can qualify for a study visa South Africa.

Study Visa

The study visa can be issued for the duration of the applicant’s studies at the learning institution concerned. If the applicant changes schools, then a new study visa must be applied for.  Although study visas are issued for the duration of study, a maximum period of 8 years for primary school education and 6 years for secondary school education applies.  In respect of tertiary education, the duration of the visa is only limited by the duration of the degree, diploma or certificate concerned.

If you are older than 21, you will be required to show proof from the institution you are going to attend that you have been accepted for the required course, and that you the person or organization sponsoring your studies will be able to support you financially during your time in South Africa. If you are not being sponsored by anyone, you need to prove your own ability to support yourself financially. You also need to show proof that you will have medical insurance for the duration of your stay in South Africa.

If you are younger than 21, in addition to the requirements mentioned above, you need to nominate a local guardian in South Africa. This South African guardian must be someone who has been officially approved by your guardian/s in your home country, and you should include their approval in your application.

The applicant must be accepted (or provisionally accepted) to study at the school concerned.  Acceptance is proven by way of a letter of acceptance which must be on the school’s letterhead and signed by or on behalf of the registrar or principal. The learning institution concerned is held strictly liable for the study visa holder’s compliance with the Immigration Act.

The following forms part of the school’s responsibilities towards the Department of Home Affairs:
  • It must confirm that the student’s registration has been confirmed within 60 days after the closing date for registrations;
  • It must notify the Department of Home Affairs within 7 days if the student fails to register by the closing date for registrations;
  • It must notify the Department of Home Affairs immediately if the student is de-registered or expelled; and
  • It must notify the Department of Home Affairs if the student completes his or her studies or wishes to extend the period of study at the institution.

The applicant must be covered by South African medical aid for the duration of the studies.  Some high commissions abroad will accept foreign medical aid and travel insurance policies in lieu of South African medical aid, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

As a foreigner studying at a higher educational institution with a valid study permit, you may work part-time for no more than 20 hours per week. However, you may not work during academic vacations.

If the institution concerned is not a recognized “learning institution” insofar as the Department of Home Affairs is concerned then the applicant will not qualify.  To qualify as a “learning institution”, the school must be registered with either the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education.  Examples of institutions whose students may not qualify for a study visa are private language schools, game ranger schools (also called “bush schools”) and institutions which only offer short-term technical courses.  Applicants should request proof of registration with the applicable industry body from the institution concerned.

Study visa processing time

The applicant must be covered by South African medical aid for the duration of the studies.  Some high commissions abroad will accept foreign medical aid and travel insurance policies in lieu of South African medical aid, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

As a foreigner studying at a higher educational institution with a valid study permit, you may work part-time for no more than 20 hours per week. However, you may not work during academic vacations.

If the institution concerned is not a recognized “learning institution” insofar as the Department of Home Affairs is concerned then the applicant will not qualify.  To qualify as a “learning institution”, the school must be registered with either the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education.  Examples of institutions whose students may not qualify for a study visa are private language schools, game ranger schools (also called “bush schools”) and institutions which only offer short-term technical courses.  Applicants should request proof of registration with the applicable industry body from the institution concerned.

The financial requirements for a study visa

No official financial requirements have been set for study visas, but the Department of Home Affairs have adopted a policy whereby the applicant must show access to R3 000 per month for the duration of studies. If the course for which the applicant is enrolled is for a year, then the applicant must show

R3 000 x 12 = R36 000

 

Study visa renewal applications must be made at least 60 days prior to the visa expiry date.