In order to study in South Africa, you will need to apply for a Study Permit (visa). This process may seem daunting but don’t worry – your program manager will walk you through every step, and send you a complete Visa Pack with full instructions and details of everything you will need. If you are traveling internationally in the months leading up to your program start date, please let your program manager know.

  • U.S. citizens short-term (summer) programs do not require a study permit and are eligible to enter South Africa on a visas waiver that is granted at the airport upon arrival. No prior clearance is necessary. This waiver is valid for 90 days.
  • All students must have three blank pages in their passport upon entry into South Africa (thus all students should have at least four blank pages when leaving the U.S.). This is an immigration requirement and anyone who does not have three blank pages will be denied entry. Check your passport for these extra pages and make sure to request new pages if you do not have a sufficient amount. Your passport must also remain valid for at least six months upon completion of studies.

Important Notes:

Collect all required documents to submit with your application

  • The proof of medical report form is Form BI-811
  • You must either get a radiological report/chest x-ray and complete Form BI-806 or take a TB skin test and submit documentation from your physician of a negative test. You do not need to get both the x-ray and the skin test.
  • The Consulate requires an FBI Certificate (full criminal background report); however, due to delays in regular FBI processing, it is recommended that you utilize an FBI-Approved Channeler
  • Arcadia will provide:
    • Proof of health coverage,
    • Official letter from your host institution in South Africa,
    • and the letter of enrollment from the U.S. institution (Arcadia).

These three documents will be emailed to you by your Program Manager, who will contact you when they are ready to be sent.

  • For the Notarized Birth Certificate, please use this form as a template which you can ask a local notary to complete, along with attaching a copy of your birth certificate. A notary will require that the original is present to finalize the notarized copy form and that you personally copy the document.
  • The Proof of Financial Means in the form of bank statement does not require a specific minimum amount. Please use the this template as the notarized letter from parents stating their financial responsibility.
  • In South Africa, anyone under 21 is considered a minor. If you will be under age 21 when you enter South Africa, you will need a notarized letter of consent from your parents.
  • You will need to pay an application fee.
  • Return mailing policies vary by Embassy/Consulate. In some cases, you must combine a mailing fee with your application fee into a single money order. In other cases, you must include a pre-paid courier envelope in lieu of a mailing fee.
  • In addition to the items listed online, you should be prepared to include a yellow fever vaccination certificate only if you are traveling through a country where yellow fever is present before entering South Africa.

Mailing Instructions

Where to Send: Please check the list of South African diplomatic or consular representative offices to see where you should submit your completed application and supporting materials.

When to Send: According to the RSA Home Affairs, processing should take 5-10 business days. However, in busy times it can take significantly longer, so be prepared to mail your materials to the appropriate consulate as soon as you receive the visa pack and materials from Arcadia (these will be sent to you by UPS; your Program Manager will contact you when they are ready to be sent). It’s best to allow at least 4-5 weeks for processing.

How to Send: Send all required materials at once in a traceable mailer (remember that you will be including your original passport, so you want to be able to track its location). Be sure to record the tracking number. Make sure that you are enclosing all required materials (immigration officials will not accept items that arrive separately), and that you have included a mailing fee or a pre-paid courier envelope per the instructions of your particular Embassy/Consulate.

As you will need to send original documents, be sure to make copies of everything for your records before sending in your application.

If you have any questions regarding the visa process, contact your program manager or call 1-866-927-2234.