A study visa which was previously known as a study permit in South Africa is a visa that makes it possible for foreign nationals to stay in South Africa while studying at either a primary, secondary or tertiary institution of learning. South Africa often attracts many students who wish to study abroad. This often has to do with the affordable cost of living and for some to learn and improve on their English.
Any foreign student who wishes to study in South Africa should apply for a study visa. One can apply for a study visa at any VSF centre, which is closer to the institution they’ll be studying at or their nearest South African Embassy, consulate or mission abroad. Applicants also need to complete the BI-1738 form, which will serve as one of the documents they need to submit for the study visa application. The study visa is valid for the duration of the course which the student has registered for. Below is a list of documents for a South African study visa.
List of documents needed for a South African study visa
The BI-1738 form can be downloaded from the Department of Home Affairs’ website. It should be completely filled. Written in black ink, in print form and signed to accompany the rest of your documents. Application through the Department of Home Affairs is R425 and through the VSF centre is R1350.
A formal acceptance letter from the university you’ll be attending, confirming your provisional acceptance and the duration of the programme. The acceptance letter should have the university’s letterhead and it should be signed by the registrar or principal. The acceptance letter should also come with your proof of payment for the duration of your enrolment.
Proof of financial means
This is to prove that you’ll be able to cover your living expenses and tuition fees, throughout the duration of your studies. A three months bank statement is required. Students under 18 or those who still require financial means from their parents or guardians, will need to submit their parents’ bank statements. And those who use bursaries or scholarships would need proof of financial means from their sponsor. For living expenses, you should have a minimum of R3000 per month.
The passport should be valid for the duration of your studies, with a grace period of 30 days, before you have to return to your country of origin.
- Proof of medical cover
Evidence of continuing medical insurance for the duration of the student’s course with a medical plan registered under the Medical Schemes Act. Radiology and medical reports will also be needed.
Copy of Identity documents
The student’s copy of their Identity document and their sponsor’s Identity document are also needed.
Proof of payment of application fee
When registering to study at a university in South Africa, an application fee is always required. The amount of the application fee differs from school to school. The university you applied to will inform you how much their application fee is.
Police clearance certificate
You’ll also need a police clearance certificate from all the countries you’ve lived in for more than a year since you were over 18.
Approval of stay from parents
You need approval from both parents or from the only custodial parent and documentation of that custodial arrangement. The parents must also write a letter stating that they would take full responsibility to pay all the student’s costs should the student be deported.
Vaccination certificate, if required
This is specifically for yellow fever. When Covid-19 was at its high a vaccination certificate was required, now only a negative Covid-19 test, done in the last 72 hours before arrival will suffice.
A return ticket
You need to deposit money for a return ticket if your duration of study is less than 12 months and keep the proof of payment.
The student visa permit allows the student to work part-time for 20 hours per week. While processing applications for study visas, the principle considerations are:
- No foreigner may displace a South African citizen/resident at a local educational institution.
- The student should have enough funds for their day-to-day living expenses. Their accommodation and tuition fee should be covered as well, for the duration of their stay in South Africa.
- The student should have medical cover, with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
How to get a study visa if you are already in South Africa?
The only way that one can change their visa status to another kind of visa status is if they are in hold of a temporary residence visa, and should apply for change of visa status 60 days before your temporary visa expires. For this, you can submit your application and all the above-mentioned documents at www.vfsglobal.com/dha/southafrica.
The change in status does not apply to those who hold a visitor’s visa or a medical treatment visa. These visa holders would have to return to their country of origin and apply for a study visa there. There can only be an exception if the foreigner is a state witness or if they are in need of lifesaving medical treatment or if their spouse, parent/guardian is a holder of a business or work visa, then they’ll be allowed to apply for a study visa.
Who qualifies for a South African study visa?
To qualify for a study visa in South Africa the student must provide an acceptance letter from the institution they’ll be studying at. The acceptance letter must include the school’s letterhead and a signature of the principal or registrar. The learning institution to which the student applied is responsible for the student’s compliance in following the immigration act. The following is the institution’s responsibility towards the Department of Home Affairs, with regard to the student:
- They should make sure that within 60 days after the registration’s closing date, that the student’s registration is confirmed.
- They should let the Department of Home affairs know, within seven days if the student has failed to register by the closing date.
- They should let the Department of Home Affairs know if the student gets expelled or de-registers.
- They should also let the Department of Home Affairs know if the student extends their study period after they have completed their initial studies.
How long does it take to have your South African study visa ready?
It takes about 4 to 8 weeks to have your South African study visa ready. If your study visa application is submitted at a foreign mission abroad, the processing time depends on the time of the year and the High Commission. Applications which have been received at the South African house in London, take about 5 weeks, while those received through the High Commission in Brussels can take only a minimum of three days. Often missing or incomplete documents is mostly what delay the processing time.
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