Immigration to South Africa – who’s coming to join us?

Who's immigrating to South Africa-

Immigration to South Africa is a complex area and we are often asked for data as to who is immigrating to South Africa, where do most immigrants come from and what are they are coming to South Africa for.

In response to this we have decided to provide you with some of the more salient facts about just who and why people are coming to this Rainbow Nation of ours.

The below information is drawn from Stats SA’s Statistical release P0351.4 for 2013

Immigration to South Africa temporary visa classes issued                                  

Business 1 911
Medical 1 407
Others ( corporate, exchange and  treaty) 121
Relatives 23 845
Retired 680
Study 15 378
Visitors’ Visa 33 186
Waiver 1 355
Work 24 027
Total 101 910


As you can see from the above, the fast majority of permits and visa’s issued were for the tourist class and no doubt much attention will be given to the trend of these issued tourist visa’s after the impact of the new regulations that come into being on October 1st 2014.

What can be seen as a disappointment is the number of successful business and retiree immigration applicants.

Successful Business Visa migrants bring both investment, entrepreneurial skills and create jobs for local South Africans. Retired visa applicants bring their money to South Africa and it is these funds that create both direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Both categories are therefore add considerably to the South African economy but their numbers are low.

Who’s immigrating to South Africa (temporary residency)?

The largest number of permits were issued to nationals from the following countries:

  • Zimbabwe (18,5%)
  • Nigeria (10,1%)
  • India (7,7%)
  • China (6,7%)
  • Pakistan (5,6%)
  • Bangladesh (4%)
  • UK (3,8%)
  • DRC (2,7%)
  • Lesotho (2,7%)
  • Angola (2,5%)

Recipients of permits from these ten countries represents 64,3% of the permits issued in 2013.

Immigrants from Africa totalled 54, 9% of all those issued permits/visas with SADC countries making up the majority of this with 34%. Zimbabwe (33,8%); Nigeria (18,3%); DRC (5,0%); Lesotho (4,9%); Angola (4,6%), Ghana (3,5%); Malawi (3,1%); Cameroon (2,5%); Zambia (2,3%) and Congo (2,3%) were the leading countries from the Africa region.

The rest of the world made up the remaining 45, 1% with Asian immigrants leading the way at 27,1%. Other top international immigrant nationalities were: India (17,0%); China (14,9%); Pakistan (12,5%); Bangladesh (8,8%); UK (8,4%); Germany (5,1%); USA (4,0%), Thailand (2,9%), The Netherlands (2,3%) and France (2,1%).

What’s the average age of a temporary visa immigrant?

The median age of all the 2013 temporary residence permit recipients was 32 years old.  If we widen the net a little we see that the bulk of all migrants are in the 20 to 34 year old age group (47%).

  • Children aged below 15 years: 12%
  • Age 15 to 64: 85,3%
  • 65 years and above: 2, 7%

Some did you knows?

  • Most relative’s permits were issued to Zimbabweans (13,4%) and Nigerians (12,8%) making up about a quarter of all relatives visas issued.
  • Zimbabwe and Nigeria also took the rankings for visitor’s visas with a collective 28, 2%. Nationalities of the UK and Germany collectively received 10, 1%.
  • The top 8 countries for visitor’s visa’s received 55, 1% of all visitors visa’s meaning other countries received 44, 9%, demonstrating South Africa’s universal appeal.
  • Over 50% of all work permits issued were for just 3 countries China, Zimbabwe and India.
  • Our international students (68,5%) are mainly from fellow African countries with Zimbabweans claiming over one quarter of all study permits issued.
  • The leading business permit country is Pakistan with 17, 4%, followed by Nigeria, China and Bangladesh. Together accounting for over half of all business permits.
  • The UK is the largest recipient of business permits from Europe at 2, 4%.
  • As a retirement destination South Africa’s appeal to the European market is shown by the 49.5% of retirees from UK, Germany and Netherlands. UK making up 26% of this.
  • The four most prominent temporarily residency visas were visitors, relatives, work and study permits; together they made up 93, 8% of the 101 910 TRP.
  • A total of 6 801 permanent residencies were granted with Zimbabweans receiving the most at 28,5% followed by DRC (8,6%), India (7,4%), Nigeria (6,9%), China (5,4%), and the UK (3,8%).

Applying for a visa for Immigration to South Africa

  • If you are considering setting up a business in South Africa as an entrepreneur you should read more details on the business visa which requires an investment amount of R5 million rand unless a waiver is granted.
  • If you are joining a relative either first or second kin see her for details on the relative’s visa and relatives permit.
  • For partners of South African citizens or residents there is the spousal and life partner options.
  • Retirees can apply for the retired visa for temporary residency or retired permit for permanent residency.
  • International Students, both for schools and further education will need to make an application for a study visa.
  • Those seeking to work in South African may consider:

▪     General work visa’s – for those who do not fit into any of the below categories and have a job offer

▪     Critical skills work visa’s – for those who appear on the critical skills list

▪     Intra-company transfer – of you are moving to South Africa with your international employer

▪     Corporate workers – where your company is in possession of a corporate work visa.

Finding out more about Immigration to South Africa

Intergate Immigration have been at the forefront of South African immigration since 2006. We have successful assisted over 6000 individuals and companies with their visa and permit requirements as well as other relocation advice.

You can call us on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 (Cape Town) or +27 (0) 11 234 4275 (Johannesburg), email us here or even request a call back.

We also welcome visits to our offices:

Cape Town
Intergate Immigration Service (Pty) Ltd.
Graphic Centre, 2nd Floor
199 Loop Street
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa

Intergate Immigration Service (Pty) Ltd.
Block D – Second Floor, Edenburg Terraces
348 Rivonia Boulevard
Rivonia 2128, Johannesburg
South Africa