Study visa

Study visas are not age restricted and any person wishing to study at a learning institution (as defined) in South Africa, can apply for a study visa.  The first application is usually made in the applicant’s country of origin.

A study visa may be issued to any person wishing to take up studies at

  1. An institution of higher education established in terms of the Higher Education Act of 1997; or
  2. A college established in terms of the Further Education and Training College’s Act of 2006; but does not include:
    1. A School offering further education and training programmes under the South African Schools Act of 1996; or
    2. A college under the authority of a government department other than the Department of High Education and Training; or
  3. is issued to foreigners (regardless of age) wishing to study at South African learning institutions.

As a general rule, study visas are not issued to foreigners wishing to study at private college unless the private college has been registered with the Department of Higher Education.


Study visas may be issued for the entire duration of the course of studies.  Where however students are accompanied by foreign parents in South Africa on valid visas, the study visa will not be issued for a period longer than the validity period of the parents’ visas.

Minors (under the age of 18) taking up studies in South Africa without residing in South Africa with biological parents must be placed in the care of an appointed guardian whose support is necessary for the study visa application.


Study visas may be renewed from within the borders of South Africa and the holder of a study visa may furthermore apply for any other visa/permit from within the borders of South Africa.


In terms of a recent Home Affairs Directive issued by the Minister of Home Affairs, any person graduating from a South African academic institution with a degree which appears on the Critical skills list may immediately apply for South African permanent residence (the applicant must however ensure that he/she continues to reside in South Africa lawfully until he/she receives the permanent residence permit).


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