Do I Need a Visa?

Do you need a visa to come and learn English in South Africa? It depends on what passport you hold, and how long you are intending to come to South Africa for.

visitors visa stamp UCT English Language Centre

For some of you, one of the most important parts of organising your English language trip to South Africa is the application of a visa. However, there are different rules for different passport holders.

Some countries are exempt from visas. This means that if you are coming for 90 days (3 months) or less, and are from any of these countries, then you do not need to go to the South African embassy/consulate in your country. You can fly to South Africa and your passport will be stamped upon entry and you will automatically qualify for, and receive, a visitor’s visa.

These are the lucky ones:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemborg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, St Vincent, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, United Kingdom, USA.

Then, if you hold a passport from any of these countries below, you are also allowed to enter South Africa on a visitor’s visa for 30 days.

These countries are as follows:

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Gabon, Guyana, Hong kong, Hungary, Jordan, Lesotho, Macau, Malaysia, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Peru, Poland, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Swaziland, Thailand, Turkey, Zambia.

If you are not a passport holder of any of the above countries and plan to come to South Africa for less than 90 days, then you will need to apply for a visitor’s visa at the embassy/consulate in your own country. You will not be able to hop on a plane and just arrive here without a visa in your passport!

For all passport holders on a visitor’s visa, you can apply to extend your visitor’s visa for another 3 months once you have arrived in South Africa. But make sure you apply early enough or you may run into trouble. You can only apply once for an extension, and you cannot change your visa type while you are in South Africa. This means if you arrived in South Africa on a visitor’s visa and would like to study for 6 more months, you cannot apply for a

If you plan to come for longer than 90 days, regardless of where you come from, you will need to apply for a study visa to study English in South Africa.

In addition from the Offer Letter required from the language school you intend to study English at, you will need to take other documents with you.

The list is as follows:

  • Your passport (please make sure that your passport has at least two empty visa pages)
  • Two passport photographs
  • An original bank statement showing you have enough money for your stay (approximately ZAR6000 per month) and your receipt for your course fees.
  • A return ticket
  • A letter of invitation from UCT – we will provide you with this.
  • A radiological report (Chest X-ray) – download here 
  • A medical report – download here 
  • A police clearance certificate from your home country
  • Medical Insurance – see our FAQ for more information 
  • If you are bringing a spouse or children you will also need your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificates

At the UCT English Language Centre we will only send the Offer Letter once students have paid a 25% deposit for their course with us, and this money is reflected in the University’s bank account. We then release an offer letter which states very clearly on it that you have paid the required deposit and how much this was. This serves to communicate to the embassy where you are applying for a visa that your intentions to study English are genuine and legitimate. We have a very good relationship with many embassies, and they frequently contact us to check students applying for visas are indeed registered with us and have paid.

If you would like to look at other visa options (volunteering, business, etc.), then please visit the Department of Home Affairs website here

If you have any questions relating to visas, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or you can phone the South African embassy or consulate closest to you for more information.

Follow this link to find the South African mission closest to you.

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