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. 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.
Foreign students who want to study in South Africa must apply for and obtain the student visa before they arrive in South Africa. A student visa is issued for a program of study at a specific institution. In case an international student wishes to change the institution where he or she has taken admission, he or she will have to obtain a new student visa prior to getting admitted into the new institution.
Overriding Consideration for South Africa Student Visa
An overriding consideration for processing of student visa applications in South Africa is that no foreign student may displace a South African citizen/resident at a local educational institution.
Eligibility Criteria for South Africa Student Visa
To be eligible for South Africa student visa you must fulfil the following conditions:
- You must provide a copy of the official letter from the educational institution, where you intend to study, confirming your provisional acceptance into a course of study and the duration of the course. The educational institution must be approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa.
- You must have a passport with a validity that extends the duration of the visa you are applying for by at least 30 days
- You must have a copy of your completed student visa application form
- You must provide proof of payment of tuition fee for the course
- You must provide proof of your financial ability so as to support yourself financially during the course of your study in South Africa, including your day-to-day living expenses, accommodation and tuition fees during your stay in South Africa and for your return transportation as well
- You must provide personal bank account statements
- You must provide proof of having adequate medical cover with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act of South Africa for the entire duration of your stay in South Africa
- You must provide proof of consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has your sole custody, along with proof of sole custody
- You must provide medical and radiology reports in the prescribed format
- You may be required to provide a vaccination certificate
- You must not have a criminal record
- If you are 18 years or older, you must submit a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years.
- If you are younger than 21 years, you will have to nominate a local guardian in South Africa who has been officially approved by your guardian/s in your home country, and you should include their approval in your visa application. You will have to submit particulars of your local guardian
- You intend to leave South Africa at the end of your authorized stay
Steps to follow to apply for South Africa Student Visa
Before you apply for South Africa student visa, be aware that it normally takes about six to eight weeks for applications to be processed for student visa. An institution in South Africa cannot register a foreign student until a valid study visa has been produced. As a prospective international student, you must apply for student visa as soon as you receive the conditional acceptance letter from the educational institution where you intend to study.
You can apply for a student visa at the South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate or Trade Mission in your country of origin. In order to obtain a student visa you can go ahead with the following procedure:
Step 1: Obtain the visa application form
Obtain the student visa application form from the South African Embassy or Consulate near you. Remember that application forms downloaded from the internet will not be accepted. You will have to fill up and submit an original visa application form that has been obtained from the South African Embassy or Consulate or from your travel agent.
Step 2: Fill up the visa application form
Fill out the details required in the application form carefully and authentically. You must provide your email address so that you can be informed of the status of your visa application. Do not forget to put your signature on your completed application form. Incomplete visa application forms will not be accepted.
Step 3: Gather the required documents for visa application
Make a check list of all the documents that you need to submit along with your application form. Gather all the documents and keep them ready for submission.
Step 4: Provide photograph for your visa application
Provide your recent colour photograph for the visa application. Make sure that your photograph matches or corresponds to all the specifications required for visa photographs. In any case, your photograph must not be more than 6 months old. You will need to submit two copies of your passport photograph along with your visa application form.
Step 5: Check the visa application fee
Check the fees required for your visa application. Keep the fee ready for submission along with your visa application form. Remember to check the mode of payment accepted for the visa application by the South African Embassy or Consulate where you intend to submit your application form.
Step 6: Submit your visa application form
Submit your completed visa application form along with all the required documentation at the South African Embassy or Consulate. You must submit the application form in person.
Step 7: Pay required visa application fee
Ensure that you pay the applicable fee for your visa application at the time of submitting your application form.
Step 8: Collect your visa
After your visa is issued, you will be notified regarding the issuance. Collect your visa on time.
Required Fees for South Africa Student Visa
Fees for South Africa student visa varies according to the nationality of the foreign student. You must check the applicable fee from the South African Embassy or Consulate where you intend to submit your visa application form.
Renewal of South Africa Student Visa
Student visas are generally valid for the duration of the course for which they were granted, or for three years for school and two years for other institutions. Depending on what your original visa stipulates, you may have to apply for a new visa if you plan to change your course of study or institution.
Exemption of Student Visa
Citizens of some specified countries/territories/international organizations are exempted from having a student visa if they intend to stay and study in South Africa for no more than 90 days. A list of such countries is provided below:
|African Union Laissez Passer||Andorra||Antigua and Barbuda|
|Cape Verde||Chile||Costa Rica|
|Slovak Republic||South Korea||Spain|
|St Vincent & the Grenadines||Swaziland||Sweden|
|Trinidad & Tobago||Turkey||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|United States of America||Uruguay||Venezuela|
Dos and Don’ts for South Africa Student Visa
You must remember the following dos and don’ts while applying for South Africa student visa.
- Apply for a student visa at least 12 weeks in advance of your planned travel date to allow enough time for the application procedure to be completed on time for you to join your course
- Fill up your application form carefully with all accurate details
- Bring original copies and photocopies of all supporting documents when you come to submit your visa application form at the South African Consulate
- Do not call the South African Consulate until your visa application has passed the stated turnaround time
- Do not present false documents for your student Visa
- Do not hide or misrepresent facts in your application