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Are you a foreign national studying in South Africa? Keen to live in South Africa permanently after completing your studies?

You stand a good chance of doing so if you’re studying in a critical skills area!

The Department of Home Affairs allows students in critical skills areas to apply for permanent residency immediately after completing their studies, with many of the usual requirements set aside.

Your qualification must be in a critical skills area.

There are 12 areas of education on South Africa’s critical skills list. These areas cover industries where South Africa doesn’t have enough local talent to fill the gaps in the job market.

The areas migrants apply under most commonly are ICT, Engineering, Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, and Life and Earth Sciences. Some of the occupations under these areas are:

  • Solutions Architects
  • Integrated Developers
  • Chemical Engineers
  • Civil Engineers
  • Mining Engineers
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
  • Public Health Physicians
  • Biological Scientists
  • Aquatic Scientists
  • Engineering Geologists

You can view the latest critical skills list here. Also, read our article on the 2019 draft critical skills list. This list was supposed to come into effect in February, but that still hasn’t happened at the time of writing (July 2019).

Your course must be at a degree level or higher
The Department of Home Affairs has stipulated that students in critical skills studies must have a qualification at a degree level or higher. In other words, one of the following:Bachelor’s degree

  • Honours degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctorate

You don’t have to apply for temporary residency first
To apply for permanent residency under the critical skills category, applicants must have 5 years’ relevant post-qualification experience. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has however waived this requirement for graduates in critical skills areas.

No need for professional body registrations
The Department of Home Affairs has waived the need for eligible students to submit a certificate from a Professional Body, Council or Board recognised by SAQA. Getting these certificates often take up to a year! So, this is a huge advantage you’ll have over other critical skills applicants.

You will, however, still have to meet all the other requirements, such as submitting police clearance certificates and undergoing certain medical tests. 

The great thing about permanent residency is that you enjoy most of the rights and privileges that South African citizens do. This includes being able to change employers freely, which is not possible on temporary residency without lodging a new visa application.


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