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HR 101 – Check the Work Permit – Part 2

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

Following on from last time, let’s have a look at some of the other types of permits that are available out there.

There are also often instances where foreigners, who have rare skills are needed here in South Africa. Sometimes these particular skills are not included on the ‘quota list’, usually because of their rarity. More often than not these foreigners will also be granted the ‘general’ type work permit. Again, these should be processed through a professional immigration practitioner as this will ensure that the proper procedures are followed and that all the required documentation is present and accounted for.

Individuals, such as (but not limited to) academics, who have published, or an internationally recognized motivational speaker or even a sports coach whose teams always does well, irrespective of which country they are coaching in, or what about a surgeon who has invented or perfected a particular medical process, these individuals would be recognised as people who have ‘exceptional skills’. Before any of these individuals get the required permit, they will have to provide Home Affairs with documentary evidence to validate their particular achievements.

One of the easiest permits to get issued are the intra-company permits. These are used mainly by multinationals and they are used specifically to bring in staff that hold key management positions or skills that are specific to that particular company. These permits are usually issued for a two year period. Understand though that a tea lady or a driver or a cleaning person etc., would not be considered ‘key’ management personnel.

So what happens then if the person who has an ‘intra-company’ permit (that has been issued for two years), falls in love with South Africa and wants to stay here. Well that is not typically a problem provided that the foreigner becomes a part of the local (or South African leg) of the multinational company. In this instance the intra-company permit can be changed to another type of permit before it expires. If it expires, however, that is a whole different ball game. Once the permit expires the foreign individual must leave the country and the permit would have to be reapplied for.

Be careful here though, because although the ‘work’ permit is valid the permanent residence permit is not guaranteed and there are instances where this has had a negative impact on the multinational as they have lost key personnel, who are critical to the local leg of the multinational. Be careful about this as it could seriously hamper your ability to trade effectively.

There are also instances where corporate permits are issued for companies who know, in advance, that they are going to need large numbers of foreign workers with a specific work skill that is not readily available in South Africa, as was the case with the French nationals who were brought out to South Africa specifically to build the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Although they were artisans, their specific skill set was for the construction of Nuclear Power Stations which differed considerably to those of the normal construction artisan.

Next time we will look at the final lot of permits that are issued to foreigners.