Verifying your qualifications from abroad through SAQA

In our years of experience applying for visas, it has been seen time and time again that one of the longest processes in compiling paperwork for a critical skills or general work visa application can be applying for a SAQA certificate.  However, with a little bit of forward planning and general awareness as to what SAQA is, many delays can be avoided, if not even eliminated entirely.

What is SAQA?

SAQA stands for the South African Qualifications Authority, which has both national and international functions. For the purposes of working in South Africa, SAQA verifies an applicant’s qualifications from an abroad institution and then evaluates them to provide an applicant with an equivalent level as if they obtained their degree in South Africa.

Why do I need SAQA?

SAQA is a requirement in terms of the Immigration Act and Regulations for critical skills and general work visas. It allows the Department to objectively determine what the South African equivalent of an applicant’s degree would be.

How are my skills verified?

After completing an online form, an applicant’s certified degree, transcripts, passport identity page and proof of payment is couriered to SAQA for evaluation. Once evaluated, an applicant can have their SAQA certificate couriered back to them, or can arrange for collection themselves.

How long does the verification process take?

Verification of an applicant’s degree is often dependent on the institution where the applicant studied. This is due to the fact that even though certified copies of original documents are sent through to SAQA, for an additional measure against fraud, SAQA contacts the institution to verify that they are true and correct. Ideally, this should take no more than two weeks – but if the institution is uncooperative it can take up to three months.


If you intend on applying for a critical skills or general work visa, it is highly advisable to immediately begin the SAQA process. Even if using an immigration attorney or advisor, they will need to have certified copies of both your degree AND transcripts. If you do not have these readily available, contact the institution at which you studied and request a copy, which can take as little as 48 hours but can take up to six weeks. This process often causes significant delays, as not only is it needed for the visa application itself, but for registration with a professional body if applying in terms of critical skills.

As an important note, if you studied in France, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, India, Mozambique, Libya or Nigeria, there are additional processes you must go through in order to verify your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

One of the benefits of having us assist you with an application for critical skills or a general work visa is that we deal with SAQA on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We are aware of the intricacies of SAQA’s application process and can assist with navigating this often frustrating and time consuming process. If you are considering applying for SAQA or are already in the process but facing problems, contact us today for more assistance.