6 Tips for setting yourself up for success when migrating to South Africa

migrating to south africa

Do you have your heart set on migrating to South Africa? Do you want to know how to increase your chances of actually getting here and making it easier on yourself?

Then you absolutely have to read the 6 tips we have for you today. Let’s get straight to them.

1. Find out if you are eligible to live in South Africa

This might be stating the obvious but before you do anything else, you need to make sure that you do qualify for a South African visa (and thus migrating to South Africa). You won’t be able to enter South Africa without a valid visa or be able to work, study or do business without the appropriate visa.

Part of this process will include finding out which visa you qualify for, assuming you are eligible for a life in South Africa.

Applying for the incorrect visa could very well lead to a rejected application. You won’t only have wasted your time, but also a lot of money.

It is also worth pointing out that most applications have to be made in your home country. It is therefore risky to arrive in South Africa on a travel visa with the intention to apply for a temporary visa once here.

Please note: Unfortunately your visa does not automatically entitle family members to also become legal immigrants. Spouses, partners and children must apply for visas in their own capacity.

2. Work with a South African immigration company

We’re not just saying this because we’re an immigration company ourselves.

South Africa does not operate its immigration rules on points system, which means there are lots of grey areas and ambiguity. This makes visa applications for South Africa time consuming and, more often that not, exceptionally complex.

A professional company will guide you through the process, do all the hard work and increase your chances of making a successful application.

Here’s how to select a credible immigration company:

Immigration practitioners for countries like New Zealand and Australia are strictly governed by immigration licensing bodies.

This is not the case for South Africa. Here you’re very likely to run into practitioners who are unqualified and not registered.

Even worse – you might find yourself dealing with someone who acts as an introducer to an immigration company in return for a referral commission.

You can see why it’s important to ensure that you’re dealing with a credible immigration company!

Here’s what to look out for:

  • The company is staffed with registered practitioners or attorneys. Ask for proof if you have to!
  • It’s a registered South African company with premises.
  • The team is an adequate size of professionals.
  • The company is experienced and have been trading for a number of years.

And here’s what to ask about:

  • To visit to their offices. Ask a friend in South Africa to pay the company a visit if you can’t.
  • Their client management system, specifically how you will be kept up to date.
  • Other support services the company is able to offer you.

3. Be (very) flexible with your timeline

The one thing that’s sure about emigrating to South Africa is this – it will take time!

General work visas can take up to a year to reach an outcome! Critical skills visas and business visas run on a similar timeline.

Take this into consideration when planning when you’d like to be in South Africa. You might need to make alternative arrangements if you need to be in the country for specific events.

4. Get organised for migrating to South Africa

While you can’t control how long it takes for the DHA to process your application, you can control how quickly you submit your application.

The best thing you can do is ensuring that you have all the necessary paperwork, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports, and that all documentation is up to date.

You can speak to one of our consultants to ask what sort of documentation you should keep handy and up to date.

5. Research the South African way of doing things

There will be many differences between how things are done in South Africa and your home country. The little things, like whether to tip or not after a meal, you can figure out when get here.

However, the big things, like the process for buying a house, you should research before migrating to South Africa.

You don’t want to find out after signing the purchase to offer that it is in fact binding (which it is in South Africa). Or that your money is a lot less than you thought it would be once transferred due to foreign exchange control regulations (which South Africa has in place).

To find out more about property processes, we suggest you speak to SAHomeBuyers, independent property buyers’ agents specialising in assisting foreigners. To talk money matters, you can call Incompass. Incompass is an independent South African money transfer company with extensive knowledge on foreign exchange control regulations.

Other areas you should research is medical aid (or health insurance, as it’s sometimes known) as well as the South African schooling system if you have children.

6. Save the equivalent of at least three months’ salary to use as a buffer once you’re in South Africa

You might think that you’ve considered all the costs of setting up your new life in South Africa, but trust us – surprise expenses pop up all too often.

With a financial buffer built into your planning you’ll be able to much better face costs that come as a surprise. This could be from having to pay import costs on something you didn’t expect to need, to admin fees on contracts or rental agreements. The little costs tend to add up quickly!

The most important is number 1 – check your eligibility!

We cannot stress this enough – you must assess your eligibility for a South African visa before attempting to do anything else on this list.

It’s only when you know for sure that you can migrate to South Africa that you should go ahead, knowing you’re pursuing a dream that is actually within reach. This is the only way to protect yourself, your time and your money.