Business Visa South Africa

What is the business visa for South Africa

A South African business visa affords a foreign national the right to reside and establish or invest in a business in South Africa.

Since June of 2014 new regulations were published by the Department of Home Affairs which saw changes to certain visa categories with the business visa was one of those in question.The new regulations come from a framework of both protecting opportunities for locals, whilst encouraging business people who will add value to the South African economy and community.

As such various government bodies and stakeholders had input into the new business visa criteria resulting in an increase in the minimum investment amount, waiver opportunities to decrease this and the securing of positions for South Africans within the business.

Apply for a business Visa

Who is a business visa for?

A business visa in South Africa is designed for foreign applicants who wish to invest into an existing business or a new business. It affords entrepreneurs the opportunity to enter and stay in South Africa and to run their own business.

How would I qualify for a business visa?

A foreign national must either invest the prescribed amount of R5 million into an existing business or provide plans to establish a new business, along with evidence of the capital contribution of R5 million. The Department of Home Affairs may reduce or waiver the capital contribution should the business be of national interest or when requested by the Department of Trade and Industry to do so.

A South African business visa can be applied for by those seeking temporary and /or permanent residency in the Republic and who wish to set up and run their own business. The business can in a variety of stages be a start-up, a purchased company or a partnership.

Qualifying for a business visa can be broken down into 2 areas, the applicants themselves and their good standing and the proposed business. To qualify for a business visa the following requirements are looked at and should be met, prior to application.

  • Investment into the business – There is a minimum investment into the business required of ZAR 5 million. This amount can be reduced with a waiver application for certain businesses.
  • Creation of jobs – The South African business visa is designed to encourage the creation of jobs and as such the business visa holder must employ 60% of its workforce from South African labour
  • The success of the business – A thorough business plan is required that will demonstrate the business has every chance of success.
  • Appropriate company structure – Business Visa holders are required to have an appropriate legal structure in place.
  • Contribution to South Africa and good standing – When making an application for a business visa you will be required to make various registrations, these are designed to ensure compliance with tax and workers obligations that you will incur.
  • Desirable or Undesirable – A business visa application will not be successful if the proposed business is of an undesirable nature

For what duration is a business visa valid?

A business visa in South Africa can be issued for 3 to 5 years. The way in which an application is motivated greatly influences the duration for which the visa is issued. For this reason, applicants who have had the benefit of professional's services will usually receive a visa with longer validity.

For more information on how to conduct business in South Africa, see the Department of Trade and Industry's guide on How to do Business in SA.

Pros of a business visa

It is possible to apply for Permanent Residence once you have obtained the Business Visa. To action such a request, you need to provide proof that you have met the requirements given above on two occasions: first within two years of the issue of your Visa, and then once again after a period of three years.

Cons of a business visa

The most important factor when applying for Permanent Residence based on the Business Visa is that your capital investment in your business should not be withdrawn. If you withdraw your capital from your business at certain points in time, your application for Temporary or Permanent Residence could be rejected.

Please note if you are a corporate seeking to expand your operations into South Africa, a business visa is probably not the correct route.

The Minister has declared any businesses in the following sector as undesirable and will therefore not be considered under this category of Visa:

  • Businesses that import second-hand motor vehicles into the Republic of South Africa or the purpose of exporting to other markets outside the Republic of South Africa
  • The exotic entertainment industry
  • Security Industry

Permanent Residency Option

Apply for a business permit if you're looking to do business in South Africa on a permanent basis

South African Visa Options