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Programmes & Services

Visa Information:

South African Study Visas are granted for the period of study  stated in your Acceptance Letter/ Letter of Undertaking from The Registrar. If you would like to take some time to travel in South Africa, please be sure to apply for extra time when submitting your visa application in your home country. You cannot apply for a tourist visa once you are in South Africa.

Please liaise directly with the South African Embassy in your region to find out what exactly you need for your application. Our Visa Enquiries website contains general information about the visa application process but information from the South African Embassy in your region should be taken as authoritative. 

Visa/Study Permit Information

All international students (those who are not South African citizens or who do not have permanent residence in South Africa) are required to have a valid study permit prior to being permitted to register at Rhodes University. Applications for study permits should be made at your nearest South African Consulate, Embassy or High Commission, usually in your home country.  A study permit is usually granted for the period of the degree programme for which you are registering at a specific institution. 

The Rhodes University International Office can only provide supplementary advice for students applying for a Study Visa. As of June 2014, VFS has been handling all South African visa applications. All international students are advised to telephone VFS or the nearest South African mission for information about applying for a Study Visa. Remember to take a reference number for all calls so that you can refer to the phone call when/if you are challenged at a later stage.

VFS Contact Details:

Please also refer to the VFS Website for necessary information


Applying for a Visa

All applications for study visas need to be submitted at the South African embassy or consulate for your country of origin. You cannot apply for a new study visa within South Africa's borders.

Please allow 8 - 10 weeks for processing time.

As of June 2014, VFS has been handling all South African visa applications. Please kindly refer to their website for further information regarding appling for a South African study visa.

VFS also handles are alterations to be made to a visa. If you need to change the dates of your visa or the degree listed on our visa, please be sure to contact VFS directly.

For Exchange and Study Abroad Students to Rhodes: You cannot apply for a tourist visa once you are already in the country. If you would like to travel before or after your semester at Rhodes, please make sure to apply for additional travel time when you submit your study visa application.

Reapplying for a Visa

If you are returning to Rhodes for a new degree, you will need to apply a new visa. Applications for new visas must be submitted at the South African embassy or consulate nearest to your country of origin.

If you need to extend your degree, you will need to apply to extend your current visa. Applications to extend current visas may be submitted within South Africa's borders. VFS handles all applications. After applying online, you will need to go down to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) in person to submit the final materials needed for your application.


Visas for Post-Doctoral Researchers

As a postdoc, you will need to apply for an endorsed visitor's visa (Section 11.1) at your nearest South African Mission (Consulate or Embassy). The endorsed visitor's visa allows you to stay in the country for periods longer than 3 months (normal visitor's visas rarely allow for periods of stay longer than 3 months). In order to get an endorsed visitor's visa, you will need to submit your Acceptance letter from the department at  Rhodes University who have invited you  - and this letter must state the start date and end date of your studies at Rhodes. Without these dates, the South African Immigration Section may issue you a visa the expires before your Scholarship runs out.

The Research Office should issue you with a letter confirming your placement as a Post-Doc at Rhodes University.

When applying for any visa, please allow 8 weeks for processing. Also remember that some supporting documents (such as police clearance) may take up to 6 weeks to acquire.

South Africa has outsourced all its visa applications to a company called VFS. Though the South African Mission nearest to you may not currently be using VFS, the VFS website nonetheless gives useful information regarding the documents you will need to apply for a visa: 

Please also be sure to telephone the nearest South African Mission to confirm which documents you will need to submit, and what the application process looks like. (Remember that each South African Mission may determine that additional documents required).

While Your Application is Being Processed

You may not travel across South Africa's borders while your application is being processed. If you do travel across South Africa's borders without a currently valid visa, you risk being declared an 'undesirable person' and being banned from South Africa for between 12 months and 5 years. It is possible to appeal any banning, but this is a lengthy process.

Trouble Applying?

If VFS takes longer than 8 - 10 weeks to process your visa application, please send an email to the International Office (internationaloffice@ru.ac.za).

Before approaching the International Office please call this tollfree number for assistance:  +27124253000

Be sure to take a reference number for the call.

If calling VFS does not resolve your visa-related issue, please send an email to internationaloffice@ru.ac.za.

The email should contain the following information in point form:

  • Name and Surname
  • Student Number, Degree
  • South African cellphone number
  • Nationality
  • Passport Number
  • Type of Visa Applied for
  • Reference number for application of visa
  • Date of Application
  • Place of Application
  • Amount Paid
  • Current South African Visa information (if any)
  • Date(s) and Reference Number(s) of Call(s) to VFS
  • Brief summary of problems encountered.

Please also attach scanned copied of the identity page of your passport, the receipt of application form and any current South African visas you may have.

Useful Documents (uploads to follow)


Medical Aid

All international students are required to have South African medical cover for the duration of their study at Rhodes University.

Medical Aid information can be found on the Medical Aid section of this website.






Last Modified: Wed, 24 Jan 2024 08:38:54 SAST