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An Expat Student Guide to South African Visas

Since around 2004, the number of international students heading to South Africa has skyrocketed. Affordable fees, a low cost of living and a chance to experience one of the world’s most fascinating cultures have been huge drawers for foreign students.

If you are considering studying in South African, get grips with students visas with our guide below.

Do you need a South African student visa?

If you are coming to South Africa to study from any other country you will need a study visa. Without a study visa you will not be able to enrol at your educational facility and start your course. All foreigners must apply for a South African study visa before entering the country. Therefore, you cannot apply for a student visa whilst in South Africa on a visitor visa.

Are you eligible for a South African study visa?

Check out the criteria below to ensure your application will be successful:

  • You must have an official letter from the educational facility you will be attending proving your period of study
  • You must have a valid passport that extends beyond the duration of your student visa by at least 30 days
  • You must have completed your student visa application
  • You must prove that you have paid the tuition fee for your course
  • You must prove that you have enough money to support your day to day expenses whilst living in South Africa
  • You must prove that you have comprehensive health insurance
  • You must provide written consent from both parents
  • You must prove you have had adequate vaccinations, as well as medical and radiology examinations
  • You must not have a criminal record
  • If you are over 18 you must submit a police clearance certificate
  • If you are under 21 you will need to nominate a guardian in South Africa that is chosen by your parents
  • You intend to leave South Africa at the end of your visa

How can you apply for a study visa?

Before you apply for a study visa in South Africa you will need a confirmation of enrolment (COE) from the facility at which you are studying. This will accompany your visa application.

Every student wishing to study in South Africa will need to apply for a study visa in their home country. You will need to contact your nearest South African Embassy, Consulate or High Commission to ask for application forms and procedures.

For students from the UK, you will require guidance from the High Commission of South Africa (London).

Top tips for visa application

You should apply for your study visa as soon as you receive a conditional acceptance letter from where you will be studying.

Be aware that your South African visa will take about six to eight weeks to process.

Make sure you know how much your visa application will cost and the accepted payment methods.

Always submit your visa application in person will all of the required documents stated in the application form. Make sure you have photocopies of all the documents.

Do not contact your South African embassy until the visa application has passed the turnaround time.

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