Study Visa Information

If you are not a South African citizen or do not have South African permanent residence, Rhodes University cannot register you as a student without Study Permit. In order to register at the beginning of each year, you will need to show your passport with a study visa which is valid for the duration of your planned degree and which correctly states the degree for which you will be studying at Rhodes. Without such a visa, you cannot be registered as a student at Rhodes.

The Rhodes University International Office can only provide supplementary advice for students applying for a Study Visa. All international students are advised to telephone the Department of Home Affair 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.

Department of Home Affairs National Helpline: 0800 601 190

Please also refer to the Department of Home Affairs Website.

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 weeks for processing time.

As of June 2014, VFS has been handling all South African visa applications. Please kindly refer to the 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 Port Elizabeth in person to submit the final materials needed for your application.

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 the Department of Home Affairs takes longer than 8 weeks to process your visa application, please send an email to the International Office (

Before approaching the International Office please call this tollfree number for assistance: 0800 601 190

Be sure to take a reference number for the call.

If calling the Department of Home Affairs does not resolve your visa-related issue, please send an email to

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 the South African Department of Home Affairs
  • 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.

Last Modified: Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:05:05 SAST