student visa in south africa

Touring an overseas country can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, sometimes you want to go to a place you have never been before and do not know anyone living there. That kind of independence requires a little prior knowledge and that is what this article is about! Let’s start by checking out the best countries for a student visa in South Africa!

If you’re considering studying abroad, we’d like to welcome you to our website. Our specialties are studying English in South Africa, applying for your student visa and South African immigration. We provide a service to all no matter where you are located. So let us help make your wishes into license.

Applying for a student visa in South Africa is quick and simple, provided you know your way around things. The application process plays a big part in those who get one and those who don’t, so it helps to know the correct and more importantly the incorrect information from the source. A wrong student visa application in South Africa can land you up in trouble with fines, delays and rejections.

If you’re traveling to South Africa and need a student visa, you’ve come to the right place. can get you in touch with the best available representatives in your area who specialize in student visas and can help you prepare for your trip.

We’ve been helping students, teachers, and tourists alike navigate the often-confusing world of international travel for over two decades. Our team has been on-hand to ensure that every traveler gets their paperwork squared away, so they can focus on enjoying their trip!

Student visa in South Africa

South Africa is a popular destination for international students. The country offers a wide range of courses at affordable rates and has a vibrant, multicultural society that is welcoming to foreigners.

If you are planning to study in South Africa, you will need to apply for a student visa. This article explains what types of visas are available, how to apply for one and any documents you need.

Types of student visa

There are three types of student visa: temporary residence permit, study permit and work permit. Each type will allow you to stay in South Africa for different lengths of time and under different conditions. For example, if you want to take up employment part-time or full-time during your studies, then you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit rather than a study permit or work permit.

How long can I stay in South Africa?

The length of time that each type allows you to stay varies from six months up until five years depending on the type of course you are studying at the university or college where they offer classes (see below).

South African visa application process

  1. Confirm your place at a university registered with the Department of Higher Education
  2. Download the BI-1738 form and complete it
  3. Schedule an appointment with a local South African embassy, mission, or consulate in your home country
  4. Present your relevant documents and pay the application fee
  5. Wait to receive a decision on your application

Visas for international students’ dependants

Only your spouse and dependent children can travel with you to South Africa. They’ll need to apply for an accompanying spouse or child visa which allows them to live there for up to three years. However, it doesn’t entitle them to work or study in the country.

If your family members do plan on joining you, you should take proof of custody or guardianship to your visa application meeting.

South African student visa requirements

It’s important that you bring all of the requested documents to your visa application meeting. Here’s a list of the resources you’ll be asked to bring along to your meeting:

  • A valid passport with an expiry date at least 30 days beyond the end of your course
  • Completed BI-1738 form
  • An official letter of acceptance from your college or university on headed paper
  • Money to pay the visa application fee
  • Two additional passport photos in color
  • A vaccination certificate (if required)
  • A cover letter detailing the purpose and length of your visit
  • The details of your arriving and departing flights, including your return ticket
  • Proof of adequate financial resources
  • Health insurance policy documents
  • Medical records

South Africa student visa processing time

Applications can take up to 8 or even 10 weeks to be processed, so beginning the process as soon as you receive acceptance from your university is advised.

If there are any unforeseen delays, you might not get your visa in time if you leave it late, so start preparing your application as soon as possible.

Working while studying

South African student visas make it possible for you to earn while you learn. You can work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, and full-time during the university holidays if you wish.

What to do if your application is rejected

Having your visa application rejected is disappointing, but you have 10 days to lodge an appeal. To do so, you’ll need to arrange an appointment with your nearest visa facilitation services (VFS) center and fill out an online application form.

Common reasons for rejection include incomplete applications, applying for the wrong type of visa, failing to provide the requested supporting documents, and a lack of information about how you’ll afford to live in South Africa. Avoiding these mistakes will give you the best chance of success.

Studying in South Africa on a tourist visa

Those who plan to attend a short course may, in some cases, do so with a short-term permit like a tourist visa. That is the case, for example, of some tourists who intend to explore South Africa while learning English.

It is important to keep in mind that tourist visas are designed for tourism purposes. If the primary reason for the trip to South Africa is to take part in a course, this may make the applicant ineligible for a tourist visa.

Please note that, as outlined above, some nationalities can visit the country for tourism without a visa and may be allowed to sign up for a short course.

Before applying for a visa or making travel arrangements, international students are strongly recommended to contact the nearest South African embassy or consulate to check that they can complete their course without a student visa.


During the apartheid era, South Africa had an influx of White, Jewish and Indian immigrants from other countries in Africa. As a result of this influx, there was a new demand for English-language schools to teach these foreigners the finer points of the language and culture. Today, the student visa program has continued to thrive within South Africa’s borders.

In traditional schools, students from other countries need to study one-on-one with an instructor and do not have the luxury of studying at home. However, through online learning, students can enjoy extra leisure time—and more importantly, complete their courses with minimal harassment and stress.

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