Quota Work Permits

Background to quota work permits

Quota work permits came into being with the immigration act of 2002. The act contains provision for the cataloguing of skill shortfall areas in the South African workplace. As well as skill shortfall areas the list, an annual publication called the skilled shortage list, may also contain critical skills and special skills that are needed by the South African economy.

Quota Work Permits South Africa

Quota Work Permits South Africa


The Department of Home Affairs does not in isolation compile the skilled shortage list. The professions and trades identified as eligible for a quota work permit are as a result of consultation with the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Once this consultation process is completed a schedule of the identified professions and trades is published in a government gazette. This is normally on an annual basis.

The latest schedule identified just under 35,000 skill shortage positions in 53 different categories.

What are quota work permits?

The various stakeholders determine that the skill shortage professions identified are crucial to the well being of the South African economy. This means the Department of Home Affairs can make available the corresponding number of quota work permits. These quota work permits can be applied for by suitably qualified foreigners.

About applying for a quota work permit

Applicants for quota work permits must meet the below criteria:

  • have a minimum of five years practical experience
  • posses the required qualifications as assessed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • must be in an occupation that feature’s on the skill shortage list

Permit application and approval process

Applications in most cases will need to made prior to entering South Africa. Applications for quota work permits cannot be made in South Africa, after you have entered on a tourist visa, as this is in contravention of the immigration act.

In addition, impending changes to the immigration act of 2002, propose that the quota work permit will be replaced, along with exceptional skills work permits, by one category called the critical skills or essential skills work permit.

Unlike most of the South African work permits, there is no requirement for applicants to have a job offer. Once the quota work permit is issued the bearer has 90 days to secure employment in the category the permit has been approved for. It is however a condition of the permit that confirmation and proof of this is provided to Home Affairs.

Useful things to know about quota work permits

  • The validity period of a quota work permit is open-ended. By this it means that as long as you are employed, in the same professional category that you applied under, you are entitled to stay in South Africa. The permit holder must however report annually to Home Affairs that this is indeed the case.
  • You do not need to stay with the same employer, or in the same position, as when you were first approved for your quota work permit, only the same category.
  • Once an individual has held a quota work permit for 5 years they can make an application for permanent residency.
  • The Department of Home Affairs states it takes 4 -8 weeks for the processing of a quota work permit but please be prepared for time frames that far exceed this. Early planning is a must.
  • For certain trades and professions you will also need to register with the appropriate South African professional / trade organisation, board or council.
  • Partners and dependants of quota work permit holders are allowed to apply for an accompanying permit. This accompanying permit does not entitle them to study, work or run a business. If the partner or child intends to pursue any of the afore mentioned activities the appropriate permit must be applied for first.
  • All documentation supporting an application must be translated into English
  • You can view the latest government gazette detailing the skill shortage professions, trades and categories here.

Keeping up to date

You can keep up to date with the latest quota permit and immigration South Africa news by subscribing to our newsletter, listening to our monthly pod casts or watching us on you-tube.

Getting started with your Quota Work Permit application

If you are looking for knowledgeable, experienced assistance from registered and qualified experts, we are here to help. As one of South Africa’s most respected companies, in offering immigration to South Africa services, we have successfully helped hundreds of individuals to obtain their quota work permit.

No other immigration company is able to offer the combination of immigration practitioners, lawyers, and in house relocation services that we do.

We are proud of our reputation, success rates and also of our client feedback. We look forward to hearing from you and more importantly assisting you with a successful quota work permit application.

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