Study Abroad in South Africa with Arcadia University

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Study Permit Information 

Study Permit Basics | Required Components | Mailing Instructions | FAQs

Study Permit Basics

In order to study in South Africa for a semester or year, you must obtain a study permit. Please read the following information in its entirety very carefully before beginning the application process; any errors will delay the study permit application process.

The below instructions are directed towards U.S. passport holders. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please check the RSA Home Affairs website to confirm what visa regulations apply.

U.S. citizens attending summer programs do not require a study permit. Instead, U.S. citizens on short-term programs 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. Non-U.S. citizens should check the RSA Home Affairs website to confirm what visa regulations apply. Students studying in South Africa for more than 90 days must obtain a study permit.

All students (semester and summer) 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.

Contact your Program Manager if you still have questions after reading through this entire page.


Required Components

Click here for a complete list of required materials for the study permit application.

Important Notes:

  • The proof of medical report form is Form BI-811
  • Applicants must either get a radiological report/chest x-ray and complete Form BI-806 or take a TB skin test and submit documentation from their physician of a negative test. You do not need to get both the x-ray and the skin test.
  • The process for a state police clearance certificate/criminal background check is different in every state. Check the website of your home state's police for instruction (or contact them directly). The clearance must be from the state - not local or city.
  • Arcadia will provide the 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 will be sent to you by UPS. Your Program Manager will contact you when they are ready to be sent.
  • Notarized letters of financial responsibility or consent need to include the following: the student's full name, date of birth, and passport number; a short statement from the parents regarding financial responsibility or consent; and the contact information for both parents (address, phone, email).
  • 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.
  • Please click here for details about the application fee. As of December 2011, the application fee for a study permit was $72 (payable by money order).
  • Return mailing policies vary by Embassy/Consulate. Click here for information about mailing fees/envelopes. In some cases, applicants must combine a mailing fee with the application fee into a single money order. In other cases, applicants must include a pre-paid courier envelope in lieu of a mailing fee (disregard the note about documents issued in Pretoria, South Africa).
  • In addition to the items listed online, you should be prepared to include a yellow fever vaccination certificate 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 website, 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 from Arcadia with the proof of insurance, university offer letter and the letter of enrollment (these will be sent to you by UPS; your Program Manager will contact you when they are ready to be sent). Try 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 take down the tracking number. Make sure that you are enclosing all required materials (immigration officials will not accept items that arrive piecemeal), and that you have included a mailing fee or a pre-paid courier envelope per the instructions of your particular Embassy/Consulate.

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



Do I have to send my actual passport with my study permit application?
YES! Your study permit will be affixed inside your passport, so the South African immigration officials need it to award you a study permit. This is why it is so important that you send your application in a package with a tracking number.  

I've received my passport back from the Embassy/Consulate. Where is the study permit?
The study permit is affixed inside the passport, on one of the pages behind the identity page. If you have thoroughly searched your passport and there is no South African study permit (or the information is incorrect), please contact the Embassy/Consulate immediately.



For assistance with any part of the application process, call The College of Global Studies at 1-866-927-2234.