- South African student visa (formerly called a South African study permit)
- South African exchange visa - If you are older than 25 years and want to come to South Africa on a cultural, economic, or social exchange program, organized between an educational institution or government body in South Africa and one in a foreign country.
South African student visa; South African exchange visa
The South African student visa application fees depend on your country of origin but are around US$47.
An international student who wants to stay and study in South Africa for a course extending 3 months (90 days) duration will have to apply for a student visa. This visa is granted to those students who have already been accepted for admission by a recognized educational institute in South Africa.
In order to qualify for a study visa for South Africa, the school or college itself must first qualify as a ‘learning institution’. This means it must be registered with either the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education. So if you want to attend a private language school or a school only offering short-term technical courses, you may not qualify for a South African study visa.
Please note: You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa. You cannot come to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and then proceed to apply for a South African student visa.
South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy
To get a visa for South Africa, students must contact the South African High Commission, Consulate, or Embassy in their country of residence.
First, you need to get accepted as a student by a registered South African school, college, or university and receive a letter of acceptance on the institution’s letterhead and signed by or on behalf of the principal or registrar.
You then need to complete the temporary residence permit application form B1-1738 and take it in person to the South African embassy, consulate, or high commission in your home country.
The following documents must be submitted with the BI-1738 application form:
- A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit
- Payment of the prescribed fee
- A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act
- Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses during the sojourn in the Republic and to also pay for the tuition fees. This should be in the form of bank statements / cash available / travelers’ cheques
- Proof of medical cover
- A cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.
- In the case of African students, an undertaking from the relevant government to take full responsibility of the student and to pay all costs, should it become necessary to deport the student
- Medical and radiology reports
- An unabridged birth certificate in the case of minors.
- In the case of a minor, the particulars of the person in the Republic of South Africa who will act as the learner’s guardian and a letter from such person confirming guardianship
- Consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has sole custody, along with proof of sole custody
- An official letter from the educational institution, where you intend to study, confirming provisional acceptance and the duration of the course.
- Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
- If you are 18 years and older, a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years is required.
You apply for an exchange permit (South African exchange visa) using the same application form B1-1738.
Application process times vary from country to country but allow about six weeks.
The student visa is valid for the entire duration of the student’s course, alternatively 36 months for schools and 24 months for other institutions.
South African exchange visa - this visa is granted for the duration of the exchange, usually not more than 12 months. The South African exchange visa cannot be renewed or extended. Once you have had this type of permit, you may only apply for a temporary or permanent residence permit after you have lived for at least a year outside of South Africa.
If you hold a South African student visa and are studying at tertiary level, you are allowed to work part-time for no more than 20 hours a week during term-time, and full-time during vacations.
There are numerous reasons why your student visa application to South Africa may be denied, such as:
- Leaving blanks on your forms
- Lying about anything in your application
- Having an out-of-date passport with no blank pages
- Misspelling your name on documents
- Not providing evidence of enough funds