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How to apply for a South Africa student visa

If you’re hoping to study abroad in South Africa, you’ll need to apply for a student visa.

The total cost of applying for a South African student visa is around R 1,775 or $107.00. Applications can take up to eight weeks to be processed, so beginning the process as soon as you receive acceptance from your university will help avoid any unwanted delays.

There’s no need to worry about your visa running out either. All South African student visas remain valid for the entire duration of your program.

South African visa application process

  1. Confirm your place at a university registered with the Department of Higher Education
  2. Download the BI-1738 form and complete it
  3. Schedule an appointment with a local South African embassy, mission, or consulate in your home country
  4. Present your relevant documents and pay the application fee
  5. Wait to receive a decision on your application

Visas for international students’ dependants

Only your spouse and dependent children can travel with you to South Africa. They’ll need to apply for an accompanying spouse or child visa which allows them to live there for up to three years. However, it doesn’t entitle them to work or study in the country.

If your family members do plan on joining you, you should take proof of custody or guardianship to your visa application meeting.

South African student visa requirements

It’s important that you bring all of the requested documents to your visa application meeting. Here’s a list of the resources you’ll be asked to bring along to your meeting:

  • A valid passport with an expiry date at least 30 days beyond the end of your course
  • Completed BI-1738 form
  • An official letter of acceptance from your college or university on headed paper
  • Money to pay the visa application fee
  • Two additional passport photos in color
  • A vaccination certificate (if required)
  • A cover letter detailing the purpose and length of your visit
  • The details of your arriving and departing flights, including your return ticket
  • Proof of adequate financial resources
  • Health insurance policy documents
  • Medical records

Working while studying

South African student visas make it possible for you to earn while you learn. You can work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, and full-time during the university holidays if you wish.

What to do if your application is rejected

Having your visa application rejected is disappointing, but you have 10 days to lodge an appeal. To do so, you’ll need to arrange an appointment with your nearest visa facilitation services (VFS) center and fill out an online application form.

Common reasons for rejection include incomplete applications, applying for the wrong type of visa, failing to provide the requested supporting documents, and a lack of information about how you’ll afford to live in South Africa. Avoiding these mistakes will give you the best chance of success.