An expat’s guide to moving to South Africa for work

Life in South Africa offers a number of enticing benefits for expats. There’s the promise of incredible natural landscapes and the ability to enjoy a relaxed, outdoors lifestyle. There’s the rich and diverse mix of cultures that has earned South Africa the moniker ‘the Rainbow Nation’. There are the warm, welcoming people – both locals and other expats – who make up the social scene in this exotic part of the world. Whatever your reasons for moving to South Africa, you can expect a unique experience on a fascinating continent that is unlike anywhere else in the world.
Opportunities for expats
The most popular destinations for expats looking to work in South Africa are the dynamic and cosmopolitan cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg. In the years following the abolition of apartheid, South Africa has worked hard on building and strengthening international ties with a number of multinational companies. Today, the region offers a number of excellent opportunities for expats – you just need to possess the skills and qualifications the region is looking for. This is partly due to the significant proportion of skilled professionals and university graduates choosing to move overseas for employment, leaving rather lucrative gaps in the market ready for expats to fill.
The top economic sectors in South Africa include the automotive industry, the developing IT and communications sector, mining, banking and the services sector.
Finding a job
If you are not one of the many expats who find themselves working in South Africa through a company transfer, your best bet for finding employment is the Internet. There are a range of useful South African job portals including PNet and Career Junction which advertise employment opportunities. Unlike many other destinations where networking can be crucial to finding work, the drive to recruit highly skilled workers from overseas mean that your ability to land a job is likely to come down to your qualifications and experience.
In addition, it is worth checking the list of occupations for which there is a skills shortage. This is updated annually by the department of Home Affairs and often includes a variety of executive positions.
The legalities of employment
It is relatively straightforward for expats to live, work and even retire in South Africa, thanks to the range of temporary residence permits offered by South African immigration. The visa you apply for will depend on your circumstances.
It might be that you apply for the General Work Visa where your company must supply proof that the position you have been offered cannot be fulfilled by a South African citizen, or a Critical Skills Work Visa where you are in possession of a skillset highly prized by the South African government. If you are eligible for a Critical Skills Work Visa you do not need to have secured employment at the time of application.
There is also an Intra-Company Transfer Visa for expats that have been transferred into South Africa as well as a Business Visa for those who are looking to open or invest in a business.
Moving to South Africa for work has advanced many a skilled expat’s career whilst delivering an experience that they will treasure forever.
Information correct at time of publication.