Moving to South Africa can seem a daunting task for any prospective immigrant.
Whether you are moving with your company, retiring, setting up a business or joining a loved one, your South African immigration process is going to play a pivotal role in ensuring you enjoy a successful relocation.
During 2011 the South African immigration act was reviewed and various amendments were proposed. As we stand these proposals, although ratified by parliament, have yet to be signed into law.
Despite this, several elements are already being implemented by various consulates and embassies – unfortunately with no prior notice.
Now, more than ever, prospective immigrants need to be kept informed about the changing environment of South African immigration and be very aware of some of the decisions they make.
Below we list our top ten immigration tips for South Africa:
- Be patient and plan for delays – whilst the South African Department of Home Affairs has improved in many areas, delays are common. Their official website states temporary residency permits will be approved in 30 days and often quotes the time frame for permanent residency as 6 months. Currently it is nearer 2 – 3 months for temporary applications, and 2 years for permanent applications, to be processed. So applications need to be made in plenty of time and you should expect delays.
- Do your research on your selected immigration company– Only deal with registered immigration practitioners and lawyers – dealing with anyone else can put your application in jeopardy and offer you little reassurance in the way of accountability. As with most countries the immigration industry contains rouge elements.In particular be on the look out for unregistered companies, inexperienced start ups claiming to have years of experience and introducer sites. One way of establishing whether the company is registered and if it has been in business as long as they claim, is to ask for a copy of their registration papers.
This will give you the date the company was registered as well as confirming that they are are a legal company. Introducer sites are common, they are basically websites owned by non immigration companies, whereby the owner of the website is paid a commission for providing a lead. This can add to your costs and also the information given is not supplied by a registered immigration practitioner.
Ensure you pick a registered company who has sufficient resources, staff levels and experience to ensure they are able to follow up and sustain their service to you throughout the entire process – remembering it can take sometimes up to 2 years ( for permanent residency) to be received.
- Get medical insurance – in South Africa this is a must. More information can be found here.
- Always try and submit your permit application abroad. South African immigration rules are changing and the new rules specify that an applicant may not make an application in South Africa that changes their status. In laymans terms this means a foreigner cannot enter South Africa on a tourist visa and then apply for, say, a work or business permit.Whilst these new rules are not yet entirely functional they may be invoked any day and the Departure of Home Affairs is notorious for giving no prior warning notice when implementing changes.
- Do your home work – the biggest reason for an unsuccessful immigration is the failure of the family to settle into their new environment. Areas need exploring, schools selected and amenities matched to your requirements. The internet offers some great research opportunities and also a few immigration companies, such as ourselves, offer relocation support and advice as well as a property consultant.
- Get organised – compiling a visa or permit application means supplying lots of documentary evidence. Check you have all your paperwork and it is up to date, this includes items such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports etc
- Get the finances in order – try and set up banking in South Africa before you arrive, again we can help with this. Make sure your banks and credit card providers in your home country are aware you are moving to South Africa so they do not prevent you accessing funds. Ensure you have internet banking and have left sufficient funds for any direct debits or standing orders that may be continuing. In addition you need to ensure you have told the relevant tax authorities of your move.
- Find a good money transfer company – South Africa has exchange control in place, something that most immigrants will not have come across before. It controls the flow of money into and out of South Africa and can effect your ability to repatriate funds. In addition companies such as Incompass can save you significant amounts on your money transfers.
- Read thoroughly your relocation report. The better immigration companies will supply you with a detailed immigration report covering the many areas that will effect you during your move. The information in a relocation report is invaluable in assisting you and preventing mistakes.
- Do not assume or be afraid to ask – South Africa offers a first world infrastructure but there are many things will which will be different to your home country. No matter how small the question may be always check. Again top immigration companies will have in house resources to guide you through areas such as tax, medical insurance, finding a property, transferring money etc etc
So there we have it – our top ten immigration tips for South Africa. By no means does this list cover all eventualities, but it gives you a good start. Remember nothing substitutes expert advice so please feel free to contact us for your free and non obligatory consultation.
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