Non-South African citizens must obtain temporary residence permits/visas before embarking to South Africa. Please ensure that you are in possession of all the documentation required when applying for any of the temporary residence permits/visas. Visit the website  to ascertain where the closest South African Mission is and what will be required of you.

Study visas

Every international student is required to have a valid passport and temporary residence permit/visa such as a study visa endorsed for study at the University of Pretoria. International students wishing to enter South Africa should only apply for study visas once an official letter of admission has been received. Applications for a study visa can be made at the official representative of South Africa (Embassy, High Commission or Consular Office) nearest to the student’s home in his/her country or in a neighbouring country.

Study Visa – How to apply?

You are required to apply for a study visa at the South African High Commission, Embassy, Consulate or Trade Mission in your country of residence or nearest country that provides the required service. Current documents to be submitted to the South African Embassy/Consulate in order to apply for your study visa are:

  • A passport valid for not less than 30 days after intended studies
  • Administrative fee
  • Confirmation and proof of payment of a South African Medical Aid Cover of a Medical Scheme registered with the Council for Medical Schemes in South Africa. The cover must be valid for the duration of one academic year (January - December).

    Please note that NO International Medical Aid Cover/ Insurance will be accepted by UP.

  • Admission Letter from  the University stating:
    - The duration of the degree
    - Confirmation that the admitted student is not taking the place of a local student
    - Undertaking to inform the Department of Home Affairs when the student deregisters
    - Medical report by a registered medical practitioner (less than six months old)
    - Radiological report (less than six months old)
    - Proof of funds to cover tuition fees and self-maintenance for the duration of studies in
      South Africa
    - A Police Clearance Certificate for the past 12 months or longer if the applicant is older than
      age 18 years (The police clearance certificate should not be older than 6 months)
    - Details regarding arranged accommodation while in South Africa
    Other documents that may be required
    -  Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
    - Relevant certificates if married, widowed, divorced or separated
    Funds that may be required
    - A cash deposit or a return ticket to country of origin (repatriation guarantee)
  • Extension or renewal of study visa

The following must be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs via VFS: • BI1739 form       (R425.00 – application fee) subject to change. (The VFS application fee is R1350.00) Apply 30 to 60 days before current visa expires

- Passport (original)
- Police clearance
- Radiological report
- Medical certificate
- Spouse ID and Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Institution proof of registration
- An accompanying letter from the Faculty/School/Department advising of extension period
 required. (XB4 letter)
- Proof of payment of tuition fees
- Proof of funds available
- Proof of a South African based Medical Aid Cover
- Proof of repatriation deposit paid if applicable
- Proof of guardianship for minor if applicable
Your application for extension or renewal of a study visa needs to be signed by the relevant faculty administration staff member (XB4 letter) before it is submitted to the Department of Home Affairs via VFS. It is advised that you retain copies of all documents for your own records. ICD staff members are not permitted to issue renewal or extension of visa letters.
Change of institution (study visa holders)

The University is not permitted to register you until you have produced your valid study visa. It usually takes at least 10 weeks for your application to be processed. It is also important for you to note that your study visa is issued to study at one institution and you would have to apply for a change of conditions, should you want to change institutions. This can be done in South Africa in the city applicable to the new institution of study.
Before you apply for this visa, you must obtain a “release letter” from your current institution, stating that they have no objections to the transfer.
Change of conditions (study visa holders)

A change of conditions of a study visa refers to a situation where you hold a valid study visa with a condition to study at another institution in the Republic other than the one you are applying to. This is usually the case of learners and students studying at South African high schools, colleges and other academic institutions and their visas would, therefore, be endorsed with a condition to study at institutions in any of the categories above. In order to register at the University of Pretoria, the visa will need to be endorsed for the applicant to study at the University of Pretoria. 
Application for change of conditions of a study visa constitutes a new application for a study visa. Though the applicant will need to complete a separate form, the requirements are the same as that for the initial application of a study visa.
Please note

Applications or renewal of a study visa in South Africa is only done through VFS. No paper applications are accepted by DHA.

  • This information is meant to serve as a guide only. 
  • Requirements for studying in South Africa are subject to change and each application is treated as an individual case. Always make inquiries before traveling to South Africa.
  • The holder of a study visa for studies at a higher education institution may conduct part- time work for a period not exceeding 20 hours per week for as long as the study visa is valid.


Yellow fever certificates are required if the journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

A refugee is a foreign national who has refugee status accorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has a South African identity book which is stamped as refugee status and is normally valid for four years until permanent status is awarded. If not, accorded status reverts to ‘asylum seeker’. The Refugee Act, Act No. 130 of 1998 (Section 27) provides refugee students the right to study without a study visa.

Asylum seekers

An asylum seeker is a person who comes to South Africa and applies to the government for protection as a refugee. An asylum seeker should have a valid permit issued under the Immigration Act, Act No. 13 of 2002 (Section 13) Department of Home Affairs. Tuition fees are similar to those of local South African students and they pay local application fees. No medical aid cover is legally required, however, it is highly recommended.
Please note: Registered students are required to update their UP records with the International Cooperation Division (ICD) in the Graduate Center each time they renew their permit.

Children of diplomats under the age of  23 years are exempt from a study visa and they pay local tuition fees. They do not pay the International levy. Spouses of diplomats do not automatically qualify for exemptions from a study visa. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation will consider each application on merit. These concessions are only valid for the period that the diplomat is in office in the Republic of South Africa. These benefits are not transferable. Once the diplomat service ends in South Africa, the student automatically reverts to regular international student status as per his/her citizenship for which all relevant international fees will be applicable.
Practical training

A study visa may be endorsed to do practical training. The faculty needs to provide the student with a letter indicating that students will be required to work towards the completion of his/her programme (degree) in order for the student to be issued with this endorsement.
Block students

These are students who attend university for a period of less than three months per academic year. These students may enter South Africa on a visitor’s visa or if the student is from a visa exempt country, then they may enter and exit with a stamp at the relevant port of entry and exit, and are therefore not required to obtain a study visa. Block students are also exempted from the requirement of medical aid cover.


Please follow the VFS link for your study visa application.

For the VFS helpline, please follow the VFS link

[email protected]


Contact person

Mrs Jenny Lambinon

[email protected] 


- Author Itumeleng Njoro

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