Who’s coming to South Africa, and why?

 ·19 Jul 2014
Expat jobs south africa

New statistics from Stats SA reveals how many foreign nationals are flocking to South Africa, which countries they’re coming from, and why.

According to Stats SA, 101,910 foreign nationals entered into South Africa in 2013 on a temporary basis, while 6,801 took up permanent residence.

The number of temporary residence permits (TRPs) approved by home affairs is down 28% from 2012, where 141,550 permits were issued.

Conversely, permanent residence permits (PRPs) increased by over 430% from the 1,283 permits issued in 2012.

“The huge fluctuations in the approved permits per year are mainly due to the processing procedures and regulations in place at the time of adjudicating of the applications,” Stats SA said.

“Although the total number of permits numbers of permits issued per year changed, the ranking of the type of category status used was practically the same in each year.”

Residence permits (both temporary and permanent) are issued in a number of categories, ranging from visitors’ permits to work, study and business permits.

Last year, the highest proportion of temporary permits were issued for visitors‟ (32.6%) followed by work permits (23.6%).

Relatives’ permits made up 23.4% of permits issued, whilst 15.1%, 1.9% and 1.4% were study, business and medical treatment permits respectively, Stats SA said.

Temporary permit distribution

Temporary permit distribution

For foreigners seeking permanent residence in South Africa, the largest proportion (58.3%) of temporary permit holders gained permanent residence through the relatives’ category status.

The second biggest category in which foreigners gain permanence in the country were those here on a work permit.

Who’s coming to South Africa?

According to Stats SA’s demographics figures, Zimbabweans make up the largest group of people moving to South Africa, both temporarily and permanently.

In 2013, 18,899 Zimbabweans gained temporary residence in the country, followed by 10,265 Nigerians and 7,829 Indians and 6,857 Chinese nationals.

Top 10 temporary permit countries

# Country No. of people
1 Zimbabwe 18,899
2 Nigeria 10,265
3 India 7,829
4 China 6,857
5 Pakistan 5,721
6 Bangladesh 4,064
7 UK 3,839
8 DRC 2,798
9 Lesotho 2,766
10 Angola 2,596

Zimbabweans took the most permits for studying, visitors, relatives and working, while more Angolans came to South Africa on a medical treatment permit than other nations.

Interestingly, UK nationals topped the list for retirement permits.

The statistics for permanent residence reflected a similar trend, with Zimbabwe once again coming out top.

Top 10 permanent permit countries

# Country No. of people
1 Zimbabwe 1,939
2 DRC 587
3 India 500
4 Nigeria 470
5 China 266
6 UK 258
7 Lesotho 213
8 Pakistan 197
9 Germany 188
10 Cameroon 161

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