There has been lots of speculation during the course of 2019 about the release of a new list of critical skills that will be used to determine whether a foreigner may apply for a visa to live and work in South Africa.
The Critical Skills Visa is available to those applicants that have skills that are considered to be in short supply and high demand in South Africa, and it enables them to settle and work in South Africa. The existing list was released in 2014, and is now undergoing significant review.
A draft list was released to certain parties during the past year, and caused some consternation as it excluded some categories that were previously included, such as corporate general managers, as well as excluding some of the newer information technology skills which are extremely scarce in South Africa.
Whilst in previous years it seemed that South Africa, and the Department of Home Affairs in particular, were reluctant to facilitate foreigners with scarce skills to settle and work in South Africa there now seems to be general acceptance that skilled foreigners are desperately needed in South Africa to fill the skills gap and assist in the growth of the economy.
This can be seen in recent statements by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, as well as the President himself, Cyril Ramaphosa. The change in attitude is also apparent in the reduced processing times for Critical Skills Visa applications which is now around 4 weeks as opposed to other visa applications which are taking up to 12 weeks to process.
It has been confirmed that the draft list that was circulated earlier in the year has been abandoned and that the Department of High Education working together with other relevant government departments such as Home Affairs, and Trade and Industry with further input from Business Groups is compiling a new list of critical skills.
Whilst there are no fixed timelines for the publishing of the final report it is expected to be in the first half of 2020. With the new attitude of encouraging skilled foreigners to work in South Africa now is as good a time as any to be applying for a Critical Skills Visa.
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