When you are foreign, you need a work permit to work in South Africa and it can be a very painful quest to obtain it. If my own experience can help some people facing the same situation, I think it can be worth sharing:
- Where to start the procedure: start the procedure in France rather than in South Africa if you can. I was advised to apply at a SA embassy in France because it takes less than one month (since your application is complete) rather than 3 in South Africa. However, if you start in France and experience a delay in your application, you take the risk of being blocked in the country as they hold your passport. It is also impossible to transfer your application from France to South Africa or from South Africa to France, in case you change your mind.
- Timeline: Contract signed on May 14th with my company. I started gathering all the documents needed for the application // Beginning of June I gave my application to the embassy but some documents were still missing (newspaper & SAQA) // I completed my application on July 13th // My Work permit was finally issued on July 15th.
- Document required: the application form your embassy will give you, a medical report and radiological report (the embassy will also provide you with the form to be filled by your physician), a cash deposit of equivalent value of your return ticket (I just gave proof that I already had a return ticket and it was ok), proof of financial means (I didn’t have to provide it as my salary was enough to cover living expenses in South Africa), a police clearance translated in English, your contract employment, a proof of experience in line with the job (a CV is fine), a proof of the qualifications evaluated by the SAQA, a salary benchmark for similar positions in South Africa (some agencies can provide it in a couple of days), an advert in a national newspaper (I published it in the Times. More information on the advert format are available on http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/ > Immigration services > FAQs), a list from your employer of all short-listed candidates that applied to the position and reasons why they didn’t fit the position, a letter of motivation from your company explaining why they hire a foreigner instead of a SA resident/citizen, a proof of company registration with the Registrar of Companies.
The full list of documents is available on the government website:http://www.services.gov.za/services/content/Home/ServicesforForeignNationals/Temporaryresidence/Generalworkpermit/en_ZA
The documents that take most time to be issued are the SAQA and the newspaper. You must try to get them as soon as you can.
- The newspaper is absolutely necessary even if your company already advertised the position on the Internet (they are very inflexible with that and I unfortunately realized it late). An advert takes a couple of days to be published but you will have to send the newspaper to France and also wait a little for potential candidates to apply (I waited for one week only but I think they did me a favour because my company had already been looking for candidates for 4 months on the Internet)
- The SAQA certificate is the most difficult document to obtain. It takes forever to get it. I sent my application on May 20th and now (on mid July) I still haven’t received it. I however had some problem in sending my application: If you send your application by Chronopost send it at the physical address and not at the postal address or they will send it back to you because they need someone to sign a receipt. Thankfully, the embassy was able to issue my permit without this SAQA certificate after I gave them documentary evidences of that I had already applied for it, as well as proof of my degree and school transcripts.
I hope these few advice will be helpful. If you have questions do not hesitate to contact me, I would be glad to help.