Companies contemplating employing a substantial number of foreign nationals can consider an application for a Corporate Visa.
A Corporate Visa is applied for by the corporate applicant in the first instance. In broadest terms, a Corporate Visa essentially constitutes a pre-approval with regard to the employment of a determined number of foreign nationals with appropriate qualifications and/or skills and experience, in specific positions. Once the Corporate Visa is issued, the corporate applicant can recruit and employ foreign nationals who can then apply for work authorizations on the basis of corporate authorization certificates issued in terms of the Corporate Visa.
The initial application process can be onerous and lengthy and, in addition to a number of requirements and undertakings in respect of the foreign nationals to be employed, requires corroborated representations made by the corporate applicant in respect of the need to employ foreigner nationals, their job descriptions, the number of South African citizens or permanent residents employed and their position all of which must be substantiated with clear and compelling documentary evidence.
The applicant for a corporate visa must, inter alia, provide proof that at least 60% of the total staff complement who are employed in the operations of the business are South African citizens or permanent residents employed permanently in various positions and, at any time during the duration of the visa, they must be in a position to provide proof that this remains the case.
Certification and recommendation from the Department of Labour is required, as well as recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry. The DHA might also consult with other relevant government departments in determining whether or not to grant the Corporate Visa.
A Corporate Visa may be issued valid for up to 3 years and the foreign nationals to be employed may only be employed for the validity of the Corporate Visa; it is not possible to renew the foreign national’s corporate authorization certificate or for him/her to apply for a change of status from within South Africa.
Post the amendments to the Immigration Act in 2014, it has become considerably more difficult to obtain a Corporate Visa and the DHA has introduced a number of more stringent requirements.