South African Business Visa

A South African Business Permit allows people like you to immigrate to South Africa based on a substantial investment being made in a new or existing business venture. As a rapidly changing country, there are a number of growing industries that you may be interested in investing in, or even filling a hole in the market that nobody has seen yet. Our consultants will work with you to put forward your proposition in the most compelling way for the South African authorities, and ensure that you have the best possible chance of success in your new South African venture.

South African Business Visas concentrate upon the entrepreneurial ability and experience of the prospective candidate as well as the investment requirements. The eligibility criteria also place emphasis on the creation of jobs for South African citizens or permanent residents – the more you can contribute to the South African economy, the more likely you are to have your visa approved.

What are the Benefits of a Business Visa?

The South African Business Visa is one of many temporary resident visas for South Africa which allow applicants to migrate to South Africa for an agreed period. The South Africa business visa equates most directly to the UK Investor Visa and the USA EB-5 visa, both of which are based on a candidate possessing sufficient business acumen and capital to successfully begin a commercial enterprise.

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of companies in South Africa. Whether the foreign company is partnering with a local company, or opening a branch with 100% ownership, or taking over an existing operation, foreign ownership is welcomed.

South African Business Visas are granted for a period of 24 months and can be extended indefinitely providing that the visa requirements below continue to be met. This is a pathway to Permanent Residency and eventual Citizenship.

Who is Eligible?

All the normal eligibility criteria apply to a business visa application but in addition, prospective applicants should be aware of:

  • The need of a capital equivalent or cash investment of at least ZAR 5 million into the business via from funds from abroad; and the need for 60% of your workforce to be South African citizens or permanent residency holders; and
  • The setting up of a suitable company structure and comprehensive business plan

The other key requirement of the South Africa business visas is that the enterprise in question must result in the creation of at least 5 employment opportunities for South African citizens or permanent residents. This requirement applies to a 5 year period in which the jobs must be created.

Beyond these requirements, candidates immigrating to South Africa via this route must also satisfy the following criteria:

  • A detailed business plan must be submitted
  • The applicant must be employed in the investment or entrepreneurial venture
  • Evidence must be supplied to show that the investment capital will originate from abroad
  • Documentary evidence of the applicant's business experience and entrepreneurial skills must be submitted
  • A signed agreement must be made to register with the relevant statutory body for the sector

While a South Africa business permit may be extended, it is important to note that the conditions outlined above must continue to be met in order for a South African visa extension to be granted.

In some cases, business permits may be revoked if an enterprise does not continue to perform satisfactorily.

Our experts have been working on Business Visas for almost 20 years, and know exactly how to present your case for the best chance of success. We will guide you through the application and your required documents to ensure that you have a solid case to present to the Immigration Authorities.

If you are conducting Business in South Africa and you want to use this to gain residency, this is the permit for you. There are two main requirements when applying for a Business Permit for South Africa.

  • Make sure you employ 60% South African citizens or Permanent Residents
  • Invest R5 million into the business

The investment amount can be broken down into a ZAR 500,000 capital contribution immediately and the remaining balance to be transferred to the country and invested into the business over a 12 month period.

The process involved includes drawing up a full business plan, registering the business with the South African Revenue Service and having your finances assessed by a qualified South African Chartered Accountant.

If the business falls in line with one of the following industries, a capital waiver may be requested. This would mean a reduction in the capex required.

The industries are:

(a) Agro-processing

  • Fisheries and aquaculture i.e. freshwater aquaculture and marine culture
  • Food processing in the milling and baking industries
  • Beverages viz. fruit juices and the local beneficiation, packaging and export of indigenous teas
  • High-value natural fibres viz., organic cotton and downstream mohair production
  • High-value organic food for the local and export market
  • Biofuels production viz. bioethanol and biogas
  • Processing of seed oils: tea extracts, including buchu, honeybush: and other oil derivatives (avocado, Amarula etc.)
  • Diversification/beneficiation of biomass sources i.e. sugar, maize

 (b) Business Process Outsourcing and IT Enabled Services

  • Call centers
  • Back Office Processing
  • Shared Corporate Services
  • Enterprise solutions e.g. fleet management and asset management
  • Legal process outsourcing

 (c) Capital / Transport equipment, metals and electrical machinery and apparatus

  • Basic iron and steel
  • Basic precious and non-ferrous metals
  • Casting of metals
  • Other fabricated metal products: metalwork service activities
  • General purpose machinery
  • Tooling manufacturing
  • Foundries
  • Electric motors, generators and transformers
  • Electricity distribution and control apparatus
  • Insulated wire and cable
  • Accumulators, primary cells and primary batteries
  • White goods and associated components

 (d) Electro Technical

  • Advanced telecommunications
  • Software development
  • Software and mobile applications
  • Smart metering
  • Embedded software
  • Radio frequency identifications
  • Process control, measurement and instrumentation
  • Security and monitoring solutions
  • Financial software
  • Manufacturing sensors
  • Digital TV and Set Top Boxes due to migration to fully digital television

 (e) Textile, Clothing and Leather

  • Spinning, weaving and finishing of textiles
  • Knitted and crocheted fabrics and articles
  • Wearing apparel except for fur apparel
  • Dressing and dyeing of fur
  • Leather skins and hides beneficiation

 (f) Consumer goods

  • White goods and associated components

 (g) Boatbuilding

  • Boatbuilding and associated services industry
  • Engines and engine systems
  • Marine equipment and accessories

 (h) Pulp, paper and Furniture

  • Manufacture of wood and products of wood and cork
  • Manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials
  • Manufacture of paper products: publishing, printing and reproduction
  • Paper and paper products and furniture

 (i) Automotive and Components

  • engines, radiators, filters and components thereof
  • air conditioners/climate control systems
  • alarms and Tracking devices
  • axles, transmission shafts
  • body parts and panels
  • catalytic converters, silencers and exhaust systems and components
  • seats and parts thereof, seatbelts, leather covers
  • suspension and shock absorbers, springs and parts thereof
  • steering wheels, columns and boxes
  • ignition, starting equipment, gauges and instrument parts
  • lighting equipment
  • wiring harnesses, instrument panels vehicle interiors, electronic drive train components,
  • body parts

 (j) Green Economy Industries

 (jj)Power generation:

  • Independent power generation, energy infrastructure and alternative energy
  • Nuclear Build Programme i.e. joint ventures, consortiums and the establishment of new companies to grow South Africa's nuclear manufacturing capability and nuclearsupply industry to supply into the nuclear build programme

 (jjj) Renewable Energy:

  • Onshore wind power - manufacture of turbines/blades
  • Solar PV and Concentrated Solar Power manufacture/assembly
  • Biomass
  • Small hydro
  • Energy efficiency and energy saving industries
  • Solar water heaters
  • Waste Management and Recycling
  • Reducing landfill
  • Lowering greenhouse gas emissions from landfill sites

 (k) Advanced Manufacturing

  • Nano-materials
  • High-performance materials based on natural resources (advanced bio-composites
  • Advanced materials, polymers and composites
  • Medical devices, diagnostics and composites
  • Space e.g. satellite manufacturers etc. and astronomy e.g. SKA, telescopes, dishes etc.
  • Composites (intelligent textiles used in medical, building and construction industries)
  • Continuous fibre reinforced thermoform composites
  • Biochemical and biologics for applications in agriculture, industry and health/medical sectors
  • Electricity demand Site Management Solutions to improve electricity efficiency usage
  • Lasers and laser-based additive manufacturing various applications
  • Advanced Robotics Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems
  • Applications in the mining industry, data collection and analysis
  • Bio - manufacturing - Biochemical and biologics for applications in agriculture, industry and health/medical
  • Fuel cells and Technology

 (l) Tourism infrastructure

  • accommodation - hotels, boutique hotels, lodges and resorts
  • urban integrated tourism/ entertainment precincts
  • adventure, - eco-, sports, conference- and cultural tourism
  • infrastructure developments
  • leisure complexes and world class golf courses
  • harbour and waterfront developments
  • transfrontier conservations areas
  • Tourism transport - aviation, rail, cruise liners etc.
  • green building and green technologies for tourism
  • attractions and activity - based tourism
  • museums and heritage

 (m) Chemicals, plastic fabrication and pharmaceuticals

  • basic chemicals
  • water treatment chemical products
  • man-made fibres
  • plastic products: polypropylene and polyvinylchloride
  • medical (drips and syringes), manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredient
  • (APIs) for key antiretrovirals (ARVs)
  • Manufacturer of reagents for AIDS/HIV diagnostics
  • Production of vaccines and biological medicines

 (n) Creative and Design Industry

  • Film studios, treaty film co-production ventures, distribution infrastructure
  • Servicing of foreign productions
  • Production of film and documentaries, commercials, stills photography and
  • Multi-media
  • Post-production
  • Design
  • Jewellery manufacturing and design
  • Fashion design

 (o) Oil and Gas

  • Maintenance ship and rig repair
  • Fabrication - equipment and specialised components
  • Specialised services - training and accreditation
  • Specialised services - non-descriptive testing, inspection services, SHEQ services
  • Exploration - technical services: seismic surveys, logging, environmental impact assessments, etc.
  • Exploration - offshore
  • Exploration - onshore shale gas
  • Exploration - onshore coal bed methane and underground coal gasification
  • Infrastructure - refineries (Oil and GTL)
  • Infrastructure - terminals LPG/LNG import, storage and distribution
  • Infrastructure - ports and associated infrastructure
  • Infrastructure - storage
  • Logistics - pipeline

 (p) Mineral beneficiation

  • Downstream processing and value addition

 (q) Infrastructure Development

 (r) ICT

  • IT
  • Wireless and Telecom
  • Electronics
  • Geomatics and Digital Media
  • Software Development
  • Advanced programming

List of undesirable Business in South Africa;

  • Businesses that import second-hand motor vehicles into the Republic of South Africa for the purpose of exporting to other markets outside the Republic of South Africa
  • The exotic entertainment industry
  • Security Industry

Can I Bring Dependents?

Business Visas are grouped within the temporary residence permit classification. However, since South African visas of this class can be extended and may ultimately lead to permanent residence in South Africa, it is likely that successful candidates establishing or investing in a South African business will be present in the country for some years if not indefinitely.

As a result, spouse and dependent immigration are permitted and the spouse or partner and dependent children may accompany the principal applicant to South Africa.

Dependents will be granted Visitor Visas to immigrate to South Africa for the same length of time as that granted to the Business Visa holder and therefore do not need to apply for a South Africa Relatives visa.

Processing Time in South Africa for Extension: 30-40 days
Processing Time if lodged abroad: 30 days

Government Fee in South Africa for Extension: ZAR 1520
New Submission Centre Fee ( in SA ): ZAR 1350
Government Fee abroad: Dependent on Currency

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