emigrating to south africa

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Emigrating to South Africa

South Africa is an undeniably exciting country that boasts amazing scenery and a unique cultural mix, combined with a high quality of living and a relatively low cost of living; it is understandable that many people are looking to immigrate here.

The following, is a general guide to gaining residence in SA. For more details make inquiries at your nearest SA Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.

Getting a Visa

The present immigration policy in South Africa is tight due to emphasis being placed on giving jobs to the general population of South Africa. As there are many unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the country, prospective immigrants must not follow an occupation where a South African citizen can fill or be trained to fill. So if you have a skill that is in short supply or lots of cash ready to invest in the country, you will be able to get a visa.

General Requirements

An autonomous statutory body will consider all applications for permanent residence individually. There are however, basic requirements that need to be fulfilled to gain residency, you must:

- Be of good character.

- Be a desirable inhabitant.

- Not be likely to be harmful to the welfare of South Africa.

- Not have an occupation in which there is already a sufficient number of people available to meet the current requirements of that occupation.

Ideally you should apply for immigration to SA while you are in your own country of residence, however there are exceptions to this rule (for example, if you are on a work permit in the country or married to or the child of a South African Citizen. For more details consult your nearest SA Embassy, High Commission or Consulate or the nearest Department of Home Affairs office if you are in South Africa.

Types of Immigration

It must be noted that a person looking to immigrate does not decide what immigration category they fall into, this is decided by officials of the Department of Home Affairs.


- Applicants are usually aged between 18 and 51.

- You must have a permanent offer of employment made by a registered South African company.

- The position offered must be reflective of your qualifications & experience.

- Your prospective employer must be able to demonstrate why a South African citizen cannot fill or be trained to fill the position.

- Your prospective employer must submit proof that they have advertised for a period of time and that no suitable SA citizen has applied (this can be in the form of newspaper clippings of the advertised position.)

- You must register with the appropriate SA bodies, if you are professionally qualified.


This is a category for those who do not have an offer of employment but do have family members (specifically parents, brothers or sisters) who are SA citizens or permanent residents and are willing to support you financially or until you become economically active.

Spouses & Children

'Being married to a South African citizen or permanent resident does not automatically guarantee you permanent residence status.'

RainbowNation.com. July 2004.Visa Requirements for South Africa. Available:
http://www.rainbownation.com/services/southafrica/visa.asp (23/03/06)

If you hoping to immigrate to SA and are married to a SA citizen you will first be considered as a prospective immigrant in your own right. However if you do not qualify under the work category you will be considered under this category of spouse. If so, you will need to submit proof of marriage as well as providing evidence of your spouse's financial ability to support you and any children you may have.


Again, if you are hoping to immigrate to SA and engaged to a SA citizen you will first be considered as a prospective immigrant in your own right. And as before, if you do not qualify under another category you may be considered under the category of fiancé.

If you apply for immigration in SA or in your own country a refundable fee has to be paid. You can join your fiancé in SA on a visitor's visa to await the outcome of your application. You will need a affidavit which needs to be signed by your fiancé stating that you wish to get married within 3 months to do this. On arrival in SA your visa will be replaced with a temporary residence permit valid for one year. You can then apply for permanent resident.

Sponsored Persons

'If you are destitute, aged or infirm and wish to immigrate to South Africa, a blood family member who is permanently and lawfully resident in South Africa may sponsor you, provided he or she is financially able to support you.

To qualify, you must be physically unable to fend for yourself, such that you need to be taken in as a dependent, and you may not have dependents that would need sponsorship too. If, however, you are financially self-supporting, then you must apply for immigration in your own right, for example as a retired person.'

RainbowNation.com. July 2004.Visa Requirements for South Africa. Available:
http://www.rainbownation.com/services/southafrica/visa.asp (23/03/06)

Retired Persons

If you wish to immigrate to SA and are retired and financially self-supporting you must submit documentary proof of your financial assets. These assets must be transferable to SA.

Financially Independent Persons

If you want to be considered in this category you must transfer at leas R 1,500,000 to SA. R700,000 of it (at least) must be invested in the SA economy for a period of 3 years. You then need to provide proof of this after the 3 years is up in order to retain your permit. You will need approval from the Department of Home Affairs to partake in employment or if you wish to establish your own business.

Own Business

If you are looking to start your own business, you will need to transfer a minimum amount of funds (which will be determined by the Immigrants Selection Board) as well as supporting yourself and family members. Once your business has been established for 12 months you need to provide certain documentation to prove that; you have employed two SA citizens (who are still in employment) and that the transferred funds have been used for the intended purposes. Finally you must provide 'Audited financial statements in order for the viability of the business to be assessed'

RainbowNation.com. July 2004.Visa Requirements for South Africa. Available:
http://www.rainbownation.com/services/southafrica/visa.asp (24/03/06)

Own Business in partnership or co-operation

If you enter into a business or partnership with an already established business you will need to provide documentation (to the Department of Home Affairs) after 12 months to prove that 'your involvement has resulted in a substantial contribution to the SA economy or the full-time employment of at least two SA citizens or permanent residents..'

RainbowNation.com. July 2004.Visa Requirements for South Africa. Available:
http://www.rainbownation.com/services/southafrica/visa.asp (24/03/06)

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