Immigration info, International Students

Immigration information

If you are not a South African citizen, you must first obtain a TRP (Temporary Residence Permit) before travelling to South Africa.

1. Types of Temporary Residence Permits

A foreign national may apply for a TRP within the following ten categories:

1.  Visitors permit
2.  Study permit
3.  Treaty permit
4.  Business permit (establish own business or invest in existing business venture)
5.  Medical treatment permit
6.  Relatives permit
7.  Work permits

  • Quota work permit
  • General work permit
  • Exceptional skills work permit
  • Intra-company transfer work permit

8.  Retired persons permit
9.  Corporate permit
10.Exchange permit

As a foreign national and a prospective student at the NWU, you will require a TRP for study purposes (study permit).


2. Study permit

As a foreign national who intends to study at the NWU in South Africa, you must have a valid passport and a TRP which has been issued for study purposes (i.e. a study permit). Until then, the NWU is not permitted to register you. Be aware that an application can take an extended period of time due to external processes beyond our control.

You can apply for a study permit at any of the following offices in your home country or nearest neighboring state:

  • South African Embassy;
  • South African High Commission;
  • South African Consular Office; or
  • South African Trade Mission.

You will need a TRP (Temporary Resident Permit) application form BI 1738 and you will also need to meet specific requirements relevant to this category of application. 

Visit the SADHA website to download all official forms and / or to ascertain where your closest South African Mission is situated.


3. Prerequisite documentation

As of 9 November 2012, the supporting documentation that you will need to get a study permit  includes:

  • a form BI 1738 ;
  • a passport valid for not less than 30 days beyond  the intended period of study;
  • an administrative fee as required by the SADHA (South African Department of Home Affairs);
  • confirmation and proof of payment of a South African medical aid cover with a medical scheme registered with the Council for Medical Schemes in South Africa. The period of cover must be one academic year (January - December);
  • an invitation letter from  the NWU which states the following:
    • the duration of the qualification;
    • declaration that the foreign national is not taking the place of a South African student;
    • an undertaking by the NWU to inform the SADHA if and when the international student deregisters;
    • a recent medical report (not older than six months), written in English by a registered medical practitioner;
    • a recent radiological report (not older than six months),written in English by a registered medical practitioner;
    • proof of financial wherewithal to cover both the NWU tuition fees as well as accommodation and sustenance whilst resident in South Africa;
    • a police clearance certificate for at least the previous year (only applicable for international students who are eighteen years or older);
    • proof and details in respect of accommodation whilst resident in South Africa.


4. Other documents that might be required include

  • Yellow Fever vaccination certificate;
  • other vaccination certificates when applicable;
  • all relevant certificates if married, widowed, divorced or separated; and
  • proof of guardianship for a minor.


5. Funds that may be required

  • A cash deposit or a return ticket to country of origin (repatriation guarantee) when applicable.

NB: Your study permit must be endorsed for study at the NWU. If you wish to study at any of the NWU campuses, you may only apply for a study permit after you have received an official invitation letter.


6. Checklist (TRP2)

When you are applying for a TRP for study purposes (study permit), the SADHA will supply you with a checklist (TRP 2).


7. Extension of a study permit

If you already have a TRP with a study permit and you want to extend your stay at the NWU for study purposes, the following must be submitted to the SADHA at least 30 days before your permit expires:

  • a  form BI1739;
  • an application fee, which is subject to change;
  • a valid passport (original);
  • a police clearance certificate;
  • a radiological report;
  • medical certificates;
  • proof of registration at the NWU (NB: Only valid for specific year of study);
  • an accompanying letter from the relevant NWU Faculty / School / Research Entity confirming that an extension period is required;
  • proof of payment of tuition fees;
  • proof of financial wherewithal to cover both NWU tuition fees as well as accommodation and sustenance whilst resident in South Africa;
  • proof of a South African-based medical aid cover.

Other documents that may be required:

  • Yellow Fever vaccination certificate;
  • all relevant certificates if married, widowed, divorced or separated; and
  • proof of guardianship for a minor.

Funds that may be required:

  • A cash deposit or return ticket to country of origin (repatriation guarantee).

NB: Your application for extension of a study permit needs to be signed by an official from the International Office situated on your particular NWU campus before it can be submitted to the SADHA. It is strongly advised that you keep certified copies of all documents for your own records.


8. Endorsements to study permits (part-time studies)

If you are a holder of a work permit or a business permit, you may apply for a secondary endorsement to study part-time. The endorsement will only be valid for the period stated on your prospective business permit or work permit.


9. Change of institution of study

A study permit is normally only issued for a specific institution of study. If you need to change your institution of study you will first need to apply for a change of conditions in the town or city closest to your new institution of study.
Before you apply for this permit, you must obtain a release letter from your current institution, stating that they have no objections to the transfer.


10. Change of study conditions

A change of conditions of a study permit refers to a situation where you already hold a valid study permit for study at an institution in South Africa but desire to change institutions. This is usually applicable to students studying at South African high schools, colleges and other academic institutions. Here, your study permit need to be endorsed by the institution concerned.

Application for change of conditions of a study permit constitutes a new application of a study permit and you will need to complete a new form, even though the requirements are exactly the same as for when you made your initial application for a study permit.
Very Important: All relevant SADHA forms are available on the internet. They can also be collected at any of the local South African Visa Issuing Authorities (SADHA Offices, SA Consulates or Embassies).

The holder of a study permit 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 permit is valid. However, in holiday periods, part-time work may be extended to 40 hours per week.


11. Vaccinations

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


12. Refugees

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 two 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 permit.  


13. 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 Students Division (ISD) in the CSC each time they renew their permit. 


14. Diplomats

Children of diplomats under the age of 23 years are exempt from a study permit and they pay local tuition and related international levies. Spouses of diplomats do not automatically qualify for exemptions from a study permit. 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.  


15. Practical training permit

This is a permit issued with a study permit, enabling a student to work towards the completion of his/her programme (degree/qualification). This work must be related to your studies. No other work is allowed. A student on a practical training permit may be paid. The permit is obtainable when or after applying for the initial study permit. 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 permit. 


16. 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 and are therefore not required to obtain a study permit. Block students are also exempted from the requirement of medical aid cover.



North-West University Disclaimer:
Please be aware that the information supplied on this page is for general information purposes only. More precise details can be obtained by going to the official SADHA website (South African Department of Home Affairs). Requirements for studying in South Africa are subject to change and each application is treated as an individual case. Please ensure that you make the necessary inquiries well in advance, before travelling to South Africa.