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The Minister of Home Affairs recently announced  that the South African government is developing a policy that will see  the country retaining  many of the foreign nationals graduating from the various South African universities . While the  welcome move may not be introduced  soon  We take a look at a section in the Immigration Act that already  provides  an interim solution to the challenge of assimilating these graduates into the country`s work force.

Nothing excites students more than the prospect of successfully completing their studies and joining the professional world. In the midst’s of the joy a reality begins to settle in for those students from outside the Republic who`s study visas are about to expire and seemingly have no prospects of joining a company on an internship programme or even taking up full-time employment. The requirements for a work visa are often too daunting for many graduates as on top of that list is the words “appropriate Industry specific experience”. On the other side companies who are willing to employ these recent graduates are skeptical and weary of the murky waters of the immigration landscape and are unwilling or lack the will power to pursue that course of action.

The good news is that the new immigration Act provides a hassle free option for recent graduates. Section 22 of the Act provides an option for graduates and companies to recruit qualified graduates without going through the rigorous processes of securing a work visa. Section 22 deals with an Exchange Visa and there are to types of exchange programs provided for by the Act, a cultural, economic or social exchange administered by an organ of state or learning institution. The second type, the more relevant one for our purposes is contained in section 22(b)

The Act provides that a foreigner who is under the age of 25 who has received an offer of employment to conduct work for a period of no more than one year may be issued with an Exchange visa provided that the applicant satisfies the other requirements

There is no advertisement requirement like with a General Work Visa nor is there a need to demonstrate the presence of a prescribed skill or qualification as with the Critical Skills Work Visa. The employer simply has to make certain prescribed undertakings regarding the welfare and remuneration of the Applicant.

The visa is perfect for those graduates seeking to gain work experience and participate in the graduate recruitment programmes as well as serve articles, whether in law or accounting. The major disadvantage of this visa is the age requirement as well as the period that the visa is issued. It is only issued for a year however there have been instances where the visa issued for 2 years and is renewable for as long as you remain under 25 years of age. At the very least the visa affords the graduate a much-needed opportunity to gain some work experience ad become eligible for the work visas available.

So it is not all doom and gloom in the with new immigration laws. Contact us for more information on the Exchange visa.


Munyaradzi  Nkomo

Immigration Specialist at Strategies Migration Services South Africa.

011 064 4875

074 337 0269