Work permit before I get a job?

Julian Pokroy January 25, 2010

Q: I wish to enter South Africa in order to find employment. The prospective employers that I speak to tell me I need a work permit before they can employ me, but the Department of Home Affairs or South African Embassy tell me that I need a work permit before I can be employed. What is the legally correct thing to do?

A: You are not entitled to work in South Africa without a work permit. As such, your prospective employer would be incorrect. While there are many different kinds of work permits that each have their own requirements it is important to take note that you are not entitled to be in the employ of any employer unless you have a work permit in their name. The only exception to being allowed to enter South African on a work permit without having a job offer is with the quota work permit category. The only exception allowed with regard to being able to work in South Africa without necessarily having your employer stipulated on your permit is with an exceptional skills work permit.

About Julian Pokroy, the author

Julian Pokroy is one of South Africa’s leading Immigration Specialist Attorneys. He has been practicing immigration law since 1980 and celebrates 30 years of specialist immigration, nationality and refugee law practice in 2010! Julian heads up the Immigration, Nationality and Refugee Law Committee of the Law Society of South Africa and is is a member of the South African Law Commission’s Committee for Home Affairs. Julian is also a prolific author on immigration matters both in South Africa and internationally.

  • Mossie

    Question: Can somebody tell me what will happen to a person or persons coming from aboard having DONAR funding to train communities and Professional Healers on HIV/Aids?

    Using local people's information and goodwill to reach their goal.

    Our country's service providers needs to be accredited and here someone from aboard who does'nt even have a workpermit in place can just go on training,That person is in S.A. with a holiday Visa. Coming in and out of the country for nearly 2 years

  • Abarth2602

    I have applied for a temporary residency with a work endorsement. I'm waiting for 8 months now and the company will only keep the position available for one more month, what can I do? Can I work while an application is pending?

  • Ricki

    Hi. I am a British citizen who married a South African 2 and a half years ago. Am I alowed to do any kind of work here and which permits do i need and where do i get them? I live in KZN. Thanks, Julie

  • Delelegn201

    My question is I want to be employed here and wnated to know the requirments. The law states that without workpermission it is impossible to employed, but my asylum permission says that I can work and study. Can you tell me about this?

  • Luzokinha09

    Hi there,

    It is possible work and study in South Africa ? What are the requirements for studying and Working ? (not saying, study OR work, but study AND work)


  • Mchirombo

    I have an exceptional skills work permit as an artist, can i take up a masters of arts studies on that at the same time without the study permit since i work full time and now have been offered this course full time too! 

  • Jaylatara

    i want to apply for a workers visa but i just finished high school and have no other experience, is it possible to get any kind of visa under these circumstances??


    All the commenters have questions, just like the writer of this article, the best option is always to use the services of an immigration lawyer. Everyone has a different situation when it comes to immigration.