Semester in South Africa Visa

Do you need a visa to study in SOUTH AFRICA?

Visa applications. Obviously it’s the most fun part of preparing to study abroad, right? Don’t worry, if you give yourself enough time, and remain flexible along the way, the Visa application process doesn’t have to be stressful.

For the Semester in South Africa program, you WILL need to obtain a long term Student visa. It’s extremely important that you continue to check your email regularly, as your Program Coordinator will be emailing you a  visa instructions packet which contains important information regarding how and when to apply for your South African Student visa.

Please read through this information carefully, as visa instructions can be complicated, and materials can take weeks or months to obtain.

IMPORTANT: CISabroad will only advise students on visa procedures for travel requirements for your CISabroad program only. CISabroad is not responsible for advising students on visa issues if they plan to travel internationally before or after the program dates.

These instructions are intended for US passport holders. International students must also be aware of additional documentation and/or processing time needed for their visas. Please contact your Program Coordinator to discuss your visa.

Please note that all consulates have varying visa processing times and/or requirements. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of their assigned consulate’s visa processing period and to send in their complete visa application well enough in advance to allow adequate time for processing. Each consulate lists the visa processing period on their website. Note: Required documents for your visa are always subject to change at the discretion of the consulate.


South African visa regulations were tightened May 26, 2014. Students must now submit at least 10 weeks out. Don’t underestimate how long it will take to collect all of your application materials! Leave yourself plenty of time to make sure you have all the documents you need.


Here’s the current list of required documents:

  • A duly completed application form (BI-1738) signed by applicant
  • Passport valid for no less than 30 days upon completion of studies
  • Two (2) passport photos
  • Notarized copy of birth certificate
  • Proof of medical report (physical test by your physician)
  • Radiological report (chest X-Ray) or skin TB test
  • Police clearance certificate (criminal background check) from all countries the applicant has lived in since age 18 for one year or longer.
  • Proof of health coverage (health insurance) [Letter of verification to be sent by  CIS]
  • Roundtrip flight itinerary
  • An official letter from the institution in South Africa confirming acceptance and duration of the course  [This is provided from Stellenbosch no less than two months post-application deadline]
  • An official letter of enrollment from the institution of learning concerned in the U.S. if applicable.
  • Proof of financial means in the form of bank statement, financial aid and/or notarized letter from the parents stating the financial responsibility.
  • In case of a minor, a notarized letter of consent from the parent is required.
  • A letter of guardianship will be supplied by SU for students under 21. SU states that this is a necessity, though not always listed on Embassy websites – advise students of this BEFORE they apply for their visa. Most embassy websites state that minors need these letters – so under-21s must be minors. Fall 2014 student (who was NOT under 21) did not receive this.
  • Proof of U.S. legal status (I-20 for F1 visa holders, copy of green card etc).
  • Non-refundable fee of  $72.00 money order for processing
  • repatriation deposit of $1,500.00 money order in case of applicants travelling on a one way ticket

Processing time is 5 business days, during peak season it may take up to 10 business days.

If you want additional information, check out the Cisabroad FAQ-South Africa page and The Republic of South Africa-Department of Home Affairs Visa Info page.