International students visa renewal in South Africa

International students on study visas in South Africa must apply to renew their immigration documents at least 60 days before the expiration date. Students who have visas expiring on 31 December of a given academic year, need to submit their application through Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) Centre in South Africa to renew their visas on or before 31 October.

Students who intend on applying for their study visa in their home country must depart South Africa before their current visa expires. Note: visa applications made outside of South Africa are considered 'new' and not a renewal. As a result, the applicant may be subjected to more comprehensive visa application requirements.

Cost for visa renewal applications made through VFS in South Africa:

R425 (Department of Home Affairs fee) and R1550 (VFS fee). Both fees are payable when making a visa application appointment through VFS online).

VFS can facilitate the police clearance at a fee of R185 payable on the day of appointment at their Centre. Payments in cash are not accepted.

Apply online through VFS for a study visa renewal:  

To request a Letter of Undertaking for a visa renewal, complete this online form.

Others visas and letters of support

To request a letter in support of an application for a visitors’ visa endorsed for research or study, complete this online form.

To request letters in support of accommodation confirmation for a study visa OR to open a bank account in South Africa, complete this online form.

All full degree and Semester Study Abroad international students who received an offer to study at UCT, whether firm or conditional, are required to apply for a study visa endorsed for studies at UCT.

Study Visa application processing times can take between 8-to-12 weeks or longer particularly at busy times when many students are applying or at the end of the year when the consulates and embassies are closed for the holiday period. We recommend you apply for your visa as soon as you accept your study offer.

Full degree and SSA students travelling on a tourist visa are not able to register for study at UCT. Where an international student fails to take up a study offer, the offer is revoked and the University is obliged to inform the immigration authorities. Ensure you apply well in advance for your study visa covering the full duration of your programme of study.

Applying for a South African study visa

You must apply for your study visa from the South Africa embassy, high commission or consulate in your home country or normal country of residence. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation lists the South African missions by country.

Applications can be made to the nearest South African embassy, consulate or high commission; or through the Visa Facilitation Service Office (VFS).

You require medical aid cover from a medical aid scheme registered with the South African Council of Medical Aid Schemes before submitting your visa application. The cover must be for one year (renewable annually) or for the full duration of the study programme and intended stay in South Africa where this is shorter than one year.

We recommend two schemes are providing good medical cover and value for money:

If you are officially recognised by the South African Department of Home Affairs as a refugee or asylum seeker, you do not need a study visa. You will need to provide us with a certified copy of your valid refugee or asylum seeker permit at pre-registration.

Likewise, if you hold a valid permanent resident permit or identity document for South Africa, you will not be required to apply for a study visa, we will accept certified copies of these documents at pre-registration.

South African study visa requirements

We recommend that you check the requirements for the embassy or consulate of the country in which you are applying as they may vary or change.

You must apply for your study visa from the South Africa embassy, high commission or consulate in your home country or normal country of residence. You cannot apply for a study visa after travelling to South Africa on a different visa.

All documents should be original.  Where the requirements allow for copies, these must be certified copies of the original.

A certified copy is a photocopy of the original document with an original certified stamp indicating that the authorised person has verified the original document against the photocopy. An authorised person is a Commissioner of Oaths.

When applying for your study visa, you’ll need a number of documents, including your passport, evidence of finances and letters from UCT.

  • All applicants

    • Your original passport, valid for at least 30 days after the date of your intended departure from South Africa at the end of your studies
    • UCT study offer letter (provisional/ conditional offer or firm offer of acceptance)
    • UCT letter of undertaking
    • A recent, original police clearance certificate (and/or FBI clearance certificate where relevant) issued by the police or security authority in each country where you have lived for 12 months or longer after the age of 18 years
    • Proof of medical aid cover from a medical aid scheme registered with the South African Council of Medical Aid Schemes. The cover must be for one year (renewable annually) or for the full duration of the study programme and intended stay in South Africa where this is shorter than one year
    • Proof of sufficient funds to cover all your costs while studying and living in Cape Town (living costs, accommodation, and tuition fees)
    • A medical report issued by a medical doctor 
    • A radiological report (chest X-ray )
    • Money to cover the cost of the application for a study visa or proof of payment already made for the visa application

    The visa issuing authorities will take your biometric data (fingerprints and ID photographs) when you submit your application.

  • Minors (under 18 at the time of the visa application)

    In addition to the documents all applicants require, you will need

    • An unabridged birth certificate
    • The name, address and full contact details of the person in South Africa who will act as your guardian and a letter from that person confirming that they are your guardian
    • Consent from both your parents for your stay in South Africa. If one of your parents has sole custody, a letter from your parent with sole custody along with documentary proof of sole custody
  • Additional documents you may be asked for, in the event of travelling through a yellow fever high risk area or if travelling with a spouse or children

    • Yellow fever vaccination certificate if you have travelled through an area where yellow fever is endemic
    • If you are married and travelling with your spouse, a marriage certificate endorsed for official recognition by the authorities of the country in which the certificate was issued
    • If you are divorced, a divorce decree
    • If you are married but separated, the legal separation order
    • If your spouse is deceased, the death certificate
    • If your children are travelling with you to South Africa, any court orders granting you full or specific parental responsibilities and rights
    • If your children are travelling with you to South Africa, a written statement confirming that both parents are in agreement that the child[ren] travel and that the parent(s) accompanying the child to South Africa accept full responsibility for them
    • If your children are adopted and travelling with you to South Africa, proof of adoption

Checking your new study visa

When the embassy or consulate returns your passport, we recommend that you carefully check your study visa to ensure:

  • Your full name appears on the study visa.  The spelling should be the same as that on your passport photo page.
  • Your visa is for study at the University of Cape Town.
  • Your visa is for the full duration of your programme of study. Your visa should be valid from the date of registration for the programme and should expire after the end date of your study programme.
  • The South African coat of arms is printed on the visa.

If any details in the visa are incorrect, immediately notify the embassy/ consulate/ high commission/ VFS of the error, before travelling to South Africa.

Travelling to South Africa on your study visa

On arrival in South Africa, we recommend that you carefully check the entry stamp in your passport to ensure

  • The conditions match those of your visa. Both should state you are in South Africa for ‘study’. If your stamp states ‘visitor’, immediately notify an immigration official of the error.
  • Any dates inserted onto your entry stamp in your passport should correspond with the expiry date for your visa. If you notice discrepancies, immediately notify an immigration official.

Working in South Africa whilst on a study visa

International students in South Africa on a study visa can work for up to 20 hours per week for paid employment.  The conditions of employment must be ‘part-time’.