critical skills visa

The DHA says the critical skills list focuses on skills that are essential for the economy. Image: Pixabay

How to qualify for a ‘Critical Skills Visa’ in South Africa

This week ,Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi shed light on the process of obtaining Critical Skills and General Work Visas in SA.

critical skills visa

The DHA says the critical skills list focuses on skills that are essential for the economy. Image: Pixabay

According to the Department of Home Affairs, recent media reports have claimed that the department is doing away with Critical Skills Visas in favour of a points-based system.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi briefed the media on the Second Amendment of the Immigration Regulation 2014 this week to clarify these “misunderstandings”.

On the gazetted regulations recommendations, Motsoaledi explained that the Immigration Act allows for two types of visas.

One is the Critical Skills Work Visa, issued to individuals with critical skills determined by the minister. The second is the General Work Visa, issued to foreigners who meet specific requirements but don’t fall under critical skills categories.

“Sub-section 4 is the one dealing with critical skills [and] this means general work is anything that is not covered in the critical skills list,” he said.

Determining critical skills

Motsoaledi emphasised that the department has not cancelled the Critical Skills Work Visa. He said there have however been some operational adjustments.

“In the past, a critical skills list visa was issued every four years, and the Minister of Home Affairs is supposed to gazette skills that are critical to the economy of the country,” he said.

He noted that Home Affairs does not have the capacity, knowledge, or the skills to know what is required for this list and instead consults the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

“The DHET usually asks the Human Sciences Research Council, and the council will work with other institutions, including labour market surveys, to put up a list of skills which they think are critical for the economy of South Africa,” Motsoaledi explained.

Qualifying for a Critical Skills Visa

The department states that the critical skills list is not about prestige. It rather focuses on skills that are essential for the economy, but where few South Africans possess this expertise.

This makes it necessary to seek out and recruit foreign talent. The department says the visa is one of the easiest to issue as it only requires a profession.

“Once the profession we have got appears on that critical skills list, which would have been gazetted by the Minister of Home Affairs, you get a letter of employment, then Home Affairs is forced to give you a Critical Skills Work Visa,” Motsoaledi said.

Changes to the General Work Visa

In contrast, the General Work Visa process has undergone changes. Motsoaledi added that employers are no longer required to go to the Department of Employment and Labour, but the visa would be approved through a point-based system.

“We are going to give you points, and on the basis of that point you have to reach a particular mark, then you get your visa,” the minister said.

This system will consider factors like age, qualifications, language proficiency, work experience, an offer of employment and one’s ability to assimilate within South Africa.

On the latter regarding adaptability, the department is considering replacing this with the income or salary that is being offered to an individual.

Remote work or ‘digital nomad’ visas

Meanwhile, other work visa regulations were withdrawn by the department this week. This was in response to feedback from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

This came days after announcing amendments to immigration regulations. These regulations applied to the issuing of a “digital nomad visa” and a points system for skilled foreigners.

The Home Affairs minister faced criticism for rushing the process and not allowing enough time for public comment, as required by law.

Minister Motsoaledi acknowledged the oversight and agreed with Nedlac’s concerns, describing the changes as minor.