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Visas for South Africa

Please note that all information on this website is for guidance only and you should always refer to the Department of Home Affairs website (1) or the nearest South African mission for the most up-to-date information. While we try to keep this information accurate, LAL Language Centres South Africa (Pty) Ltd cannot be held responsible for any information on this website that is out-of-date, and we will not accept any responsibility for a student who travels without the correct visa.

LAL Language Centres South Africa (Pty) Ltd is made up of LAL Cape Town and is currently undergoing the provisional registration process with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) of South Africa.

An extensive list of visa exempt countries can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website at

Students from all other countries will need to obtain a visa prior to arrival.

Visa Types

There are currently 2 main types of visas which can be obtained to study at our language school, as summarised below:

Visitor Visa

This is the standard visa issued to visa exempt nationals at the South African port of entry and for holidaymakers in South Africa. It is possible to study at LAL with this visa as long as the visa is valid and is available for both adults and young learners. Visitors from non-visa exempt countries will need to apply for this visa at the nearest South African embassy/consulate/mission in their home country and may apply for a visitor visa for either holiday or study purposes.

This visa can be extended for an additional 90 days at the local VFS visa facilitation centre in the Cape Town city centre.

The following documents need to be presented to apply for a Visitor Visa extension:

  • Valid passport
  • Return flight ticket
  • 3-month bank statement or sponsor’s bank statement along with the passport copy of the sponsor
  • LAL letter of acceptance

A visa extension application needs to be completed online at a cost of approximately EUR110.00. LAL will assist with the visa extension process.

Please adhere to the following visa extension application guidelines:

  • Initial 30-day Visitor Visa – Apply no later than 7 days before visa expiry
  • Initial 90-day Visitor Visa – Apply no later than 60 days before visa expiry

While the Visitor Visa may be extended once in South Africa, neither the condition/status of the visa nor the type of visa may be changed in the country.

A visitor visa is recommended for any student intending on staying in South Africa for a period of 180 days or less.

Study visa

For students who intend on staying in South Africa for more than 180 days, it is necessary to apply for a study visa at the nearest South African embassy/consulate/mission.

The following documents are required to apply for a study visa:

  • Valid passport
  • One recent photo
  • A completed study visa application form
  • A return flight ticket
  • An LAL letter of acceptance
  • Medical insurance for the full duration of study from an approved South African medical insurance company (LAL will provide assistance with this)
  • A radiological report of the chest completed on a Department of Home Affairs radiological report form
  • A medical report signed by a qualified doctor using the Department of Home Affairs medical report form
  • A police clearance certificate and a sworn translation of it if not in English

Important notes on minors travelling to South Africa

A minor is defined as a person under the age of 18. The following requirements are valid for minors travelling in and out of South Africa from 1st June 2015.

For non-visa exempt travellers, these document requirements are applicable for the visa application process and should be shown at the relevant South African embassy/mission/consulate when applying for a visa as well as at the South African port of entry. For visa-exempt travellers, these documents will only need to be shown at the South African port of entry, usually the airport.

The following explanation relates to visa-exempt travelling minors. For non-visa exempt travelling minors, please consider that the documents will need to be presented at the relevant South African embassy/consulate/mission during the visa application process and at the South African port of entry.

The following documents are required for travelling minors to enter South Africa:

  • Unabridged birth certificate
    This is the birth certificate which shows the personal details of both parents on the birth certificate. This document does not need to be translated.
  • Passport copies of both parents
  • Travel authorisation affidavit
    For minors who are either travelling with only one or none of his/her parents, he/she will need to travel with a travel authorisation affidavit signed both parents. This affidavit must be completed by the parents and also contain either the details of the guardian accompanying the learner or the details of the person collecting the student from the airport. Once completed, the document must be stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths.
  • Unaccompanied minors
    Minors who are travelling unaccompanied will also need to travel with documents issued by LAL as receivers of the student. This document will be issued when the booking is confirmed.
  • Single parents
    For minors who have a single parent for any of the following reasons:
    – One parent is deceased
    – One parent has been granted sole custody of the child
    – The child is adopted
    The minor will need to travel with appropriate documentation to support one of the above scenarios.

Please note that all South African embassies/consulates/missions will assist with providing certified travel authorisation affidavits free of charge and will further assist with the document requirements for travelling minors. It is strongly recommended to contact your local SA embassy for guidance on this matter.

Also note that any documents relating to travelling minors which are not in English need to be accompanied by a sworn translation with the exception of the birth certificate.

For more information regarding document requirements for travelling minors, please contact LAL directly.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am not from a country exempt from a Visitor Visa application. What visa should I apply for?

Should you want to take a holiday in South Africa and study English, then a Visitor Visa for Holiday Purposes should be applied for but proof of holiday activities will need to be produced.

For students only intending to study English, a Visitor Visa for Study Purposes should be applied for unless you intend to study for more than 180 days or if you intend studying at a South African tertiary institute directly after your English course, in which case a study visa must be applied for.

I would like to attend University after my English language course but my current level is below B1. What can I do?

A valid IELTS or TOEFL qualification is required for entrance to most South African universities. LAL provides preparation courses for both exams.

It will only be possible to attend university directly after your English course if you currently have a study visa. Should you be learning English while on a visitor visa, you will need to fly to your home country and apply for your study visa from your home country.

I have decided to come to South Africa to study an English language course. What do I do now?

If you are still unsure as to what kind of visa you should apply for, please email our reservations team ([email protected]) and they can advise you. You can also check the Department of Home Affairs website for up-to-date information (1).

We will need to see a copy of your passport in order to process your booking with us. This can be a scanned copy sent via email. This enables us to supply you with an accurate letter to apply for your visa.

We will be able to send you a visa letter to support your application.

What happens if my visa application is refused?

According to LAL’s terms and conditions, where a visa application has been refused and the student provides LAL with the document from the embassy stating the refusal, all fees will be refunded except for any courier or application fees.

All refusals are notified to the student in writing by the visa issuing office in your country so it is important that you obtain this and supply it to LAL.

Does my visa require me to attend the whole course?

If you wish to develop your English language skills, you should attend all lessons.

There is no legal requirement to attend the course, though it must be re-iterated here that LAL has an attendance policy for ALL students, and failure to attend the course to a certain level will lead to being asked to leave the course. Please see our terms and conditions for more information.

When should I apply for my visa?

Processing times vary from country to country. We therefore advise that you apply for your visa as soon as possible.

How do I apply for a visa?

You will need to contact your nearest South African embassy/consulate/mission to apply for your visa. You will then be advised on the procedure to follow.

If I apply for a visa, how much money do I need to show the Department of Home Affairs?

It is important that you have enough money to support yourself in South Africa while you are studying as you will not be able to undertake any work. You will need to show that you have access to funds of approximately ZAR8000.00 per month for living costs, as well as whatever course fees you will need to pay.

You will need to provide bank statements that show this money is in your account or the cash amount for the full period of stay.

What if my bank statement is not in English?

It is advised to get it translated and notarised as a true and proper translation.

If I have a working visa, can I study in South Africa?