About hiring foreign developers in South Africa
As a request by many recruiters and companies to another article on work visas that I wrote, this is a follow up focusing on hiring foreign developers in South Africa. The questions ranged mainly around which developers would qualify for which work visa and the process for applying for it.
As that article mentions, the best work visa to go for is the critical skills work visa. This one affords various benefits that are listed in the article, such as being able to apply for permanent residency almost immediately and being allowed to renew the work visa.
Find the right talent that qualifies
Hiring foreign developers in South Africa is challenging, but the part about getting the reach for your vacancy and choosing the right developer shouldn’t be the hard bit, and isn’t going to be discussed here. The part to remember is to hire someone who qualifies for the critical skills work visa. There’s no point hiring a programmer that cannot get any of the work visas for South Africa. And as mentioned above, the only one worthy of applying for is the critical skills work visa. Check on the critical skills work visa list that their skill is broadly listed (for example, being a J2ME Developer and seeing that Perl is not listed, doesn’t mean you don’t qualify). Ask your immigration lawyer (contact me for a referral) for advice if you aren’t sure on this point.
The key essential is that almost all developer qualify, provided they have some experience (often 5 years is quoted as the minimum, but even two years are enough if there is other supporting information such as a degree in Computer Science, etc). Qualification is also key, so if your candidate has nothing other than schooling, they will need more experience. However, the most important bit is being part of the relevant South African authoritative body in the field. For programming and most IT-related skills, it is the ITTPSA. They have a special page on how to join them for those wishing to earn a critical skills work visa.
Making the application
Two tips are important once you’ve chosen a developer to hire and he or she has accepted. The first is to get the right place for the application. Most often, the overseas South African missions and consulates will process the visa application in a few days, as opposed to a few months in South Africa. Make sure you plan this well with the next tip.
The second is to use a professional immigration lawyer. This was mentioned on the previous article and cannot be stressed enough. Without a detailed knowledge of which box to tick and who to contact if things go wrong, you have to be very lucky to get things right.
In other words, get the application done correctly by the immigration lawyer, plan when the new hire is going to aply and where, and keep in touch with the lawyer as to the time of the successful outcome. When your new hire receives their visa stuck into their passport, make very sure it is properly done (something an immigration lawyer can best do for you). Their details must be right, the visa must read correctly and be authentic.
Hiring foreign developers in South Africa is not therefore rocket science, however a key part to attracting good programming skills from abroad is to pay for the visa application. Ranging from ZAR12,000 to ZAR15,000, this is money well spent and can be put carefully into the new hire’s contract as something not repayable if they stay longer than a certain period of time.
When the rarest skills in South Africa are topped by Java developers and engineers, why restrict your job seeker search to one country? Other companies are doggedly hunting down foreign skills and so should you be. What’s more, often the diversity brought by a foreigner into your team makes it much stronger.