South African owned firms and locally based multi-national businesses have a range of visas to consider when seeking to employ foreigners, but clearly the most useful visa to apply for when foreign skills are needed urgently on site is the Short Term Work Visa in terms of Section 11(2) of the Immigration Act.

Xpatweb director, Marisa Jacobs, says the Short Term Work Visa has come to the rescue of many businesses, which for various reasons have urgently required specialist skills to attend to new installations or maintenance challenges in local factories or on rig, mining and construction sites. The visa, valid for three months, and is renewable.

“The Short term Work visa is the ideal solution for businesses that cannot afford to wait the two to three month time period that it takes to process an application to bring in an employee on a longer term work permit,” Jacobs says.

Benefits of short-term work visa

Businesses in the manufacturing sector and also in the oil and gas sector that require specialist skills for an acute period of time, for example, to install machinery on a once off basis, or to attend to a mechanical breakdown, can make use of this visa to speedily get the skills needed on site. The Department of Home Affairs understands the needs of businesses to import specialist skills and that it can cost businesses millions of rands in losses for every hour of production lost due to a breakdown, so this visa is relatively swift to obtain once an application has been lodged with the Department.

“The Short term Work visa is also useful in cases where you may need to bring in a professional urgently to kick start a brand new project and you cannot afford to wait for a long terms work visa application to be processed. Businesses can anticipate a five to ten day approval waiting period for the Short term Work visa but swifter approvals, of as little as two hours, have been achieved by our immigration specialists,” Jacobs advises.

Understanding the requirements

The main criteria businesses need to fulfil during the application process, explains Jacobs, includes providing the foreign professional’s credentials, such as a resume and a motivation for why his or her skills are urgently required for the particular project.

“The process can be fairly straight forward and the Department has been extremely supportive in granting this visa as it understands the knock on effect of the businesses’ production losses and the impact on the entire economy, not least the fiscus. For the quickest turnaround time and first time correct submission it’s advisable to engage an immigration specialist, who understands the process and deals daily with the High Commissions and Embassies in the Department, to oversee and facilitate the application,” Jacobs adds.

Closing remarks

Jacobs cautions that while the Short term Work visa may be renewed after three months, it does not provide a pathway to a longer work permit, and professionals required for longer periods will have to return to their home country once the visa has expired, and apply afresh for a longer term work permit from there.


Marisa Jacobs

Marisa Jacobs