How to Apply for a Study Visa in South Africa as Foreign Student in 2023

Are you considering studying in South Africa? Obtaining a study visa can be a daunting task, but don’t worry – this article will guide you through the process and provide you with all the necessary information to make your application a success.

In terms of the Immigration Act No 13 of 2002, if you are resident outside of South Africa and are not a South African citizen or do not have permanent residence, you are required to obtain a study visa to enter the Republic for the purpose of attending the University.

It is important that your visa is endorsed specifically for study at the university you have been admitted to.

If you hold refugee or asylum seeker status you are exempt from needing a study visa to attend the University however, you are required to produce a valid refugee or asylum seeker permit. The offer of a study place by the University does not bind the Department of Home Affairs in any way to allow you to study in South Africa, nor does it remove the need for you to obtain permission to enter the country. If you are offered a study place, please apply immediately for a study visa.

You can apply for a study visa with a conditional study place offer or a firm study place offer. Your application must be made to the nearest South African Embassy,
Consulate or High Commission in your home country.

Time frame to get Visa

This procedure could take between 8 to 12 weeks to be processed, so apply without delay. The application form BI-1738, duly completed, must be accompanied
by the following:

South Africa Study Visa Requirements

  1. Valid passport
  2. A fee (current details are available from the nearest South African Embassy, Consulate or High Commission)
  3. an official letter from the university confirming provisional or firm acceptance at the institution and the duration of the course
  4. letter of undertaking from the university in support of the study visa application
  5. in the case of a person under the age of 21 years.
    • the particulars of the person in the Republic who will act as that learner’s guardian and a confirmatory letter from that intended guardian; and
    • proof of consent for the intended stay from both parents or from the custodian parent, along with proof of sole custody in the latter case
  6. a police clearance certificate
  7. Affidavit confirming conditions of existing visa have been upheld for those renewing a previous study visa for South Africa
  8. medical and radiological reports
  9. documents relating to marital status if applicable
  10. a yellow fever vaccination certificate if that person travelled or intends travelling from or through a yellow fever endemic area
  11. in the case of a foreign state accepting responsibility for the applicant in terms of a bilateral agreement, a written undertaking in respect of the departure of the applicant
  12. proof of medical cover from a South African medical aid scheme, registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act, 1998 (Act No. 131 of 1998). The duration of your medical aid over must align with the duration of your study offer; renewed annually for each year of study and be valid for the full year, ending on 31 December (for full degree programmes).
  13. proof of sufficient financial means payment of a deposit: Provided that such deposit shall be refunded to the depositor after the final departure of the applicant or after a permit contemplated in section 25 of the Act has been issued to the applicant: Provided further that the payment of the deposit may be effected by means of a bank guaranteed cheque or credit card at places where such facility exists.
  14. in the case of students from Africa, the payment of the deposit shall not be required: Provided that the Government of the relevant African country submits a written undertaking to pay all costs relating to the deportation of the student, should this become necessary.
  15. other requirements as may be prescribed by the Consulate/ Embassy.

In the case of a foreign state accepting responsibility for the applicant in terms of a bilateral agreement, a written undertaking from such foreign state to pay for the departure of the applicant.

Applicants under 18 years

In the case of a learner under the age of 18 years:

  1. An unabridged birth certificate
  2. valid passport
  3. proof of physical address and contact number of the adult person residing in the Republic, who is acting or has accepted to act as such learner’s guardian, including a confirmatory letter from that guardian; and
  4. proof of consent for the intended stay from both parents, or where applicable, from the parent or legal guardian who has been issued with a court order granting full or specific parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship of the learner.

Other requirements as may be prescribed by the Consulate/Embassy Requirements may change and we thus recommend that you contact the nearest South African Consulate/Embassy before submitting your study visa application in order to find out about the required documents.

You should await the outcome of your application before making any travel arrangements to South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs has officially outsourced the submission of applications to a company called Visa Facilitation Services (VFS). Applications accepted for processing by the relevant VFS office are then forwarded to the Department of Home Affairs for adjudication. Once the application has been finalised, the Department of Home Affairs will issue an outcome to the VFS office where the application was submitted. Application forms are completed online but submitted in hardcopy and in person at the VFS Office.

Online Application Link

The online application process is located at The list of requirements for new and renewal applications can be found at

Please note that you may NOT take up studies at another university with a study visa issued for another institution. The onus is on you to make sure that your study visa is valid for the duration of your studies.