South Africa is not just the land of roaring lions and incredible wildlife, it's also an upcoming international study destination attracting thousands of international students. The country is home to some of the world’s renowned universities and institutions which offer courses at an economical rate. Due to this factor, the number of international students opting to study an undergraduate or a graduate program from there is rising constantly. The student visa is mandatory for all those who wish to study in South Africa and obtain a university degree or enrol for a course (exchange programs not included) which is longer than one to three months.
Any student intending to study in South Africa needs to acquire a student visa from the South African Embassy. The South African Embassies in India are located in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai. You may want to contact the one that's nearest to you and be prompt in putting together all the documentation at the earliest.
It is essential to apply for your study permit, and await the outcome of the application, before leaving for South Africa. The fact that a student has been accepted by a South African educational institution does not guarantee that he or she will be issued a study permit, which is required for entering the host country. The validity of the South African student visa is equal to the duration of the course.
Processing of Application
The processing time for the South African student visa is a minimum of 90 days from the day of submission at Visa Application Centers.
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Applying for Visa
After receiving acceptance from the South African educational institution, the student must file an application accompanied by the following documents:
- Passport, which should be valid for at least 30 days more than the application period.
- The relevant permit fee (cash or bank-guaranteed cheque). Contact Home Affairs for the latest fee.
- Proof of financial ability to pay the tuition fees, around ZAR 3,000 per month.
- Proof of medical or health insurance coverage that is registered or recognized in South Africa.
- A repatriation guarantee. Unless a South African sponsoring body, citizen, or permanent resident provides a written undertaking to support you, you will need to lodge a cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.
- A medical certificate and a radiological report (chest X-ray) or skin TB test.
- Vaccination certificate, if required.
- If you are minor – that is, under 18 – you will need to write permission from both parents or sole custody parent, along with proof of sole custody.
- An official letter from the institution in South Africa confirming your acceptance and detailing the duration of the course.
- If you are older than 18, a police clearance certificate.
- Make sure you've got copies of your application forms and all the supporting documents.
- Statement of purpose.
- Your arriving and departing flight details.
- Information about your stay in South Africa.
- Police clearance certificate for each country you've lived in for over 12 months, ever since you've turned 18.
- Married/divorced/widowed certificate, if required.
- Permit application forms online.
Pre-requisites for the Visa Interview
The applicant needs to complete Form BI-1738, before gearing up for the Visa Interview.
Reasons for application rejection and what to do next
There is a possibility that your visa application might get rejected due to incomplete information, opting for the wrong visa type, inability to submit the required relevant documents, and lack of funding proof.
But you don't have to be completely disheartened if this happens. There's still a chance to have your application re-reviewed. You will have ten days to lodge an appeal. In order to do so, you'll have to book an appointment with your nearest facilitation services centre and complete the online application form.
Young students can apply for an exchange permit if their purpose is to volunteer for a cultural, economic or student exchange program in South Africa. Although this permit is valid for the entire duration of your selected course, it still can not exceed a year and cannot be renewed.
Part Time Work in South Africa for International Students
If a student has a valid study permit, he/she will be allowed to work part-time for no more than 20 hours a week (not during academic vacations). If you plan to work as part of your studies or to get work experience, you will need to apply for permission from Home Affairs and include:
- A formal offer to do practical training.
- Consent from the educational institution.
- Proof that the applicant is still a registered student.
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