Student Visa Application Process for South Africa

As an Indian student planning to study in South Africa, you will require a student visa to enter the country as well as a permit to stay in there for a short or long period of time.  Once you have entered South Africa (from Durban International Airport, Johannesburg International Airport, Cape Town International Airport or Beit Bridge), your visa is “endorsed” and becomes your temporary residence permit.


Applying for Student Visa for South Africa

You must apply for a South African student visa only if:

  • You’ve applied to a South African university and received a letter of acceptance from that university for your desired course.
  • You have a valid passport

How to apply for a study visa

  1. Complete the BI-1738 form which is the application for temporary residence permit in South Africa.
  2. Apply for the Study Visa at nearest the South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate or Trade Mission in India.
  3. The study term visa fee is
  4. Your student visa will be issued only for the duration of your course; upper limit being 4 years (higher education), 5 years (secondary school) or 8 years (primary school.)
  5. Ensure that you submit the following documents along with the BI-1738 visa application form:
  • A passport valid for at least a month after your course finishes
  • Proof that you’ve paid the prescribed visa processing fee 

  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate, if needed
  • Proof that you have the financial strength to cover your estimated living expenses and tuition fees (such as bank statements/ cash available/ travellers’ cheques)
  • Proof that you have medical cover 

  • A cash deposit that will be worth a return ticket to India
  • Medical and radiology reports 

  • An unabridged birth certificate if you are less than 18 years (minor)
  • If you’re a minor, the particulars of the person in the Republic of South Africa who will be your learner’s guardian and a letter from him/ her confirming guardianship
  • Consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has sole custody, along with proof of sole custody
  • Letter of acceptance mentioning the duration of your course from the college/ university in South Africa, where you plan to study
  • Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
  • If you are 18 years and older, a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years.

Prospective international students are advised to submit their study permit documentation as soon as possible.  It normally takes six to eight weeks for visa applications to be processed – and till then your university won’t be able to register you. Passports with the valid study permit must be presented to the host university/ college during registration.


Change of Study Permit

A change in conditions of a study permit refers to a situation where you hold a valid study permit with  a condition to study at another institution in South Africa  other than the one you are applying to.

This is usually the case for learners and students studying  at South African high schools, colleges and other academic  institutions and their permits would therefore be endorsed with a  condition to study at institutions in any of the categories above.  In order to register at another university the permit will need to be  sendorsed for the applicant to study at that specific university.

Working in South Africa

The holder of a study permit for studies at a higher educational institution may conduct part-time work for a period not exceeding  20 hours per week during term and full-time when the university is closed.

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