5 surprising countries that South Africans are migrating to – and how much it costs to move

American think tank, Pew Research recently released a report on the origins and destinations of the world’s migrants from 1990-2017.

When looking at South Africa’s data, Pew Research found that at least 900,000 people born in South Africa were currently living in other countries in 2017.

For these South Africans the United Kingdom was the destination of choice, with 210,000 migrants as of 2017. However, it was closely followed by Australia (190,000) and other popular countries including the USA (100,000) and New Zealand (60,000).

While these countries remain popular emigration options, there are also a number of smaller countries that have have a relatively large South African migrant population.

BusinessTech looked at five of these countries and some of the costs involved when buying citizenship.


Greece – 10,000 South Africans

Investing in real estate in Greece guarantees foreigner property owners access to the country’s Golden Visa programme.

A major selling point is that this also means that the foreign investor is exempt from the country’s normal visa requirements, according to Goldenvisas.

This visa allows the holder residency in Greece for five years with the option to renew or extend their residency. Investors qualify for this visa when they purchase property with a value of €250,000 (R3.9 million) or more.


Portugal – 10,000 South Africans

The Portuguese ‘Golden Visa’ is currently of the most popular options among South African migrants.

Since the Golden Visa Programme was introduced in October 2015 and up to June 2017, close to 200 South African investors have acquired residence permits, investing a minimum of €500,000 (R7.8 million) in residential property in prime locations mainly in the vibrant capital city of Lisbon, said Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding International.

“The benefits offered via Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme, with its Schengen Visa and Portuguese residency, have suddenly became considerably more accessible with the introduction by the Portuguese government of a new category, which lowers the entry level from a €500,000 investment in real estate to €350,000 (R5.5 million)  – in special circumstances,” said Immelman.


Chile 20,000 South Africans

One of South America’s most stable countries economically and politically, Chile has become an attractive destination for migrants from the Americas and other regions, reports migration think tank – the MPI.

However, while the recent increase in immigrant arrivals has tested Chile’s ability to modernize its immigration laws and the official government policy toward migration (embodied in the 1970s legal framework) has remained effectively unchanged.

Chile has two investment visa programmes, the Chilean Retirement and Income Visa and the ‘Start-up Chile’ Visa.

To apply for the retirement visa, applicants must show proof of monthly income of $1,200 (R16,111) and an additional $500 (R6,713) for each family member.

For the start-up visa, no equity is required. Instead, applicants must submit a business plan along with documentation related to matters such as financing, incorporating plans, any partnerships, etc.

In the second year, the progress of the business will be reviewed by the immigration authorities before the applicant can apply for a change to permanent residence.


Israel – 10,000 South Africans

According to Henley & Partners, Israeli citizenship can be acquired by birth, by way of the Law of Return, through residence, or through naturalisation

Israeli citizenship is granted by birth to children whose mother or father are Israeli citizens regardless of whether the child was born in or outside of Israel.

However the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens who do not acquire citizenship by birth receive it under the provisions of the Law of Return of 1950.

Paying tribute to the history of persecution, the founders of the State of Israel proclaimed on its establishment the renewal of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, ‘which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew’.  The Law of Return grants every oleh (a Jew immigrating to Israel) the right to become a citizen.

A B-5 Investment visa is also open to USA citizens who which to purchase residency in the country.


Canada – 50,000 South Africans

Behind popular destinations such as the UK, USA and Australia, Canada (50,000) closely follows New Zealand (60,00) as the country with the most South African migrants.

According to Arton Capital, applicants choosing the citizenship by investment option must invest a minimum of CA$800,000 (R8.7 milion) in a government-guaranteed investment and hold it for a period of five years.

At the end of this period, the guaranteed full amount is returned to the investor without accrued interest.  The programme provides for full investment or financing through authorized financial institutions.


Read: 13 awesome countries South Africans can visit visa-free right now

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5 surprising countries that South Africans are migrating to – and how much it costs to move