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Migration in South Africa – Facts and Figures

Posted on September 22, 2020
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Due to its reputation as a free, democratic, and developing country South Africa attracts immigrants. Since the apartheid period, South Africa has long been regarded as a hub of employment for foreign workers lured by the diamond and gold industries.

Migrants flock to Gauteng:

South Africa is estimated to receive net immigration of 1.02 million people between 2016 and 2021, according to the mid-year population estimates report for 2018 released by Statistics South Africa. Most international migrants settle in Gauteng (47.5 percent). Gauteng is considered the country’s economic hub which attracts both international migrants and domestic migrants.

People migrate for a number of reasons; they can be classified under economic, social-political, cultural, or environmental categories. These categories also pertain to the factors known as “push” or “pull.” Gauteng’s economic strength is related to “pull” factors affecting its attractiveness to migrants. For the period from 2016 to 2021, Gauteng is expected to receive the highest number of migrants.

Some of the factors making Gauteng an attractive destination are better economic opportunities, jobs, and the promise of a better life. 

Indian immigrants in South Africa

Indian immigrants have settled in South Africa for centuries. Today Indians makeup about 2.5% of the population in South Africa and contribute not only to the diversity of the country but also to the economy. Indians currently in South Africa are now the second and third generations. They work here as farmers, shop assistants, municipal workers, engineers, doctors, and teachers.

 Work permits and visas for immigrants

Foreign immigrants who come to South Africa may choose between a variety of visas and permits depending on their reason for visiting South Africa, as well as the time they wish to spend in South Africa. Immigrants can choose between temporary visas and residence permits. In many cases, before applying for a PR visa the person would have to apply and hold a temporary residence visa for many years.

The general work permit, the special or exceptional skills permit, and the quota work permit are the work permit options. Companies wishing to employ a large number of foreign staff may apply to South Africa for a corporate work permit. This work permit option is regularly used by the growing business process outsourcing industry in Cape Town.

Investors and entrepreneurs opening a business in South Africa or buying into an existing business may apply for a business license, also known as a business permit. South African or permanent residency holders’ partners or spouses are often encouraged to apply for a life partnership or spousal permit. It is possible to add a business, work, or study endorsements to this permit.

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