Answer to a question from a reader

How do I get a critical skills visa?

The short answer

You need to apply online for a critical skills visa through VFS Global, the company that handles all Home Affairs applications.

The whole question

I am an Eritrean citizen who studied in South Africa and graduated with honours in geology in 2013.

I can't get a job because of the paperwork that is needed.

Geology is a critical field in South Africa. As much as I need the job, the country needs professionals to deal with it.

Please guide me as to how to get a critical skills visa so that I can practice in the field of mining industry.

I want to serve South Africa using my skill and knowledge with a humble attitude.

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking how to get a critical skills visa while currently on a relatives visa.

The Immigration Law has been amended and Home Affairs has said the new critical skills list will be finalised after being released in April for comment. It seems that your occupation, geologist, is in even greater demand than before, and is on the list under the category of “Engineering”.

You need to apply online for a critical skills visa through VFS Global, the company that handles all Home Affairs applications. They will give you an appointment at one of their Visa Application Centres, which you must attend in person, where biometric data will be taken. The VSF Global fee is R1,550 per application, and the Department of Home Affairs fee is R1,520, and these must be paid in advance with the online application.

You will need to prove that you qualify for the critical skills visa by showing that your occupation is on the critical skills list. You will also need to show your degree certificate, and prove that you have registered with the regulatory body for geologists, which is the South African Council for Natural and Scientific Professions (SACNASP). Their website is at

(SACNASP advises that you also register for the professional membership-based organisation, the Geological Society of South Africa, which is a voluntary association, but one that routinely assists with SACNASP applications. Their website is at

You will need to submit a letter of motivation about the benefit to South Africa that you will contribute through working as a geologist.

You will also need to submit a birth certificate, a medical certificate and a radiological certificate (to prove that you don’t have TB). Both the medical and radiological certificates must not be older than six months.

Your passport must be valid for 30 days after your current permit expires.

VFS will submit your application to Home Affairs and they will process it, which is supposed to take about eight to ten weeks, though it could well take longer. You will be notified by VFS to collect the outcome.

If you succeed, the critical skills visa will be valid for up to five years, though you will have to find employment within the first twelve months and notify Home Affairs of this.

Once you have completed five years of employment, you can apply for a permanent resident visa.

In December 2018, Le Roux Attorneys noted that “Importantly, international students who graduate from South African university courses related to the critical skills shortlist will be presented the chance to apply for permanent residency.”

It is not clear to us whether this means you can apply for permanent residence straight away or if you must have a critical skills visa first. You should check with VFS what this means for you.

You could also ask Lawyers for Human Rights for advice. Here are their contact details: Lawyers for Human Rights (Refugee and Migrant rights Programme (RMRP)) at Johannesburg: 011 339 1960.

Answered on April 11, 2019, 12:38 p.m.

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