South Africa immigration statistics show that the number of permits and visa granted by the Department of Home Affairs has decreased by almost one third according to the latest statistics on 'documented immigrants in South Africa'.
Foreign residents in South Africa can apply for various permit categories depending on their requirements. The two main types of residency permits which can be applied for are temporary or permanent residence permits.
According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) and the Department of Home Affairs 73,352 foreign nationals (down from 109,000 in 2013) were granted residency status in South Africa in 2014. The majority of immigrants received temporary residence permits (94%) as only 4,136 permanent residence permits (6%) were approved and granted in 2014 (compared to 6,801 in 2013).
Did you know? The provinces with the highest numbers of non-South African citizens are Gauteng (7.1%), North West Province (3.5%), Western Cape Province (3.2%), Mpumalanga (2.6%) and Limpopo (2.6%).
Foreign nationals who want to live in South Africa have to apply for a residency permit, which can either be a temporary visa or a permanent residence permit.
Temporary Residence permits, since the new regulations came in 2014 they are referred to as 'visa', are grated to all persons staying in South Africa for a limited period and applications can be made in various categories such as visitors permits, work permits, relatives permits, study permits or retired persons permit.
Immigrants can also apply for Permanent Residence (PR) permits if certain minimum requirements and conditions, such as living in the country for a minimum of 5 years and being in possession of an unlimited work contract or being financially independent, are met.
It is further interesting to know, that only only 3.3% of South Africa’s population of 51.7 million are considered as non-South African citizens whereas in the USA 14.3%, in Germany 11.9% and Russia 7.7% are considered immigrants.
Again in the newest statistics, both types of permits show that the majority of immigrants come from countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, India, China or the UK which are also the leading immigrant countries to South Africa historically.
According to the newest StatsSA immigration statistics released in December 2015 on 'documented immigrants', the following observations are made.
Temporary Residence Permits were granted to:
South Africa Immigration
Temporary Residency - Top 10 Countries: Overseas
India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uk, Germany and the USA received the highest number of Temporary Residence Permits - similar to 2013.
Regarding the distribution of temporary residence permits we found the following interesting facts:
Permanent Residence Permits account to 5.6% of all residence permits granted by the Department of Home Affairs in 2014.
Permanent Residence Permits were granted to:
South Africa Immigration
Permanent Residency - Top 10 Countries
Over 77% of these permits go to these top 10 countries: Zimbabwe, India, China, DRC, Nigeria, UK, Lesotho, Pakistan, Germany and Zambia.
It is worthwhile knowing the different distribution patterns among the permanent residence permit holders.
South Africa Immigration
Permanent Residency - Permit Distribution
It is to note that, while the number of granted temporary permits had already decreased by more than 40% from 2012 to 2013, the number decreased again more than 33% from 2013 to 2014.
The number of permanent permits which were granted in 2013 had then increased by 500% but in 2014, the percentage of PR permits granted stayed at the same 94%/6% level as in the previous year. The high discrepancy in the numbers of granted permits in the last two years are described in the report as a ‘reflection of the processing procedures and regulations’ and although the numbers of the processed and granted permits are difficult to compare, the ‘pattern of the types of permits remained virtually the same’.
The introduced changes to the immigration regulations in 2014 show that the pattern and distribution of issued permits did not vary, however, in regards to the total number of permits granted for immigration to South Africa, there is a sharp decline in officially documented new immigrants noted. This decline can in parts also be considered related to the established new VFS visa facilitation centres and decreased number of permits received due to the new regulation requirement of the visa applicants being present when submitting the application and the low number of VFS offices in several countries. How these numbers will change once the VFS facilitation centres run more smoothly and more offices are implemented especially in China and India remains to be seen in the next statistical set which is only expected to be published later this year.
Please take note: The DHA gives only information on processed applications for temporary and permanent residency. No information is given on the number of applications received by the Department of Home Affairs in 2014, thus the figures only relate to permits which have been granted. Further no information has been found regarding the number of refugees and asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants without permits and excluded are all kinds of residency applications which are still pending or were refused in 2014.
Source for South Africa Immigration: StatsSA PO351.4 - published 15 December 2015.
Regina Gräff is the founder and editor of ExpatCapeTown.com and and co-author of the 'Living in South Africa' handbook. Born and raised in Germany, she has a MA phil degree in languages and intercultural communication. Regina is a serial expat and has worked as a teacher and educational consultant in various countries including the USA, Australia, Singapore and the UK. Since 2005, she lives with her family in Cape Town/South Africa.
Uploaded page on South Africa Immigration on 4 March 2016.
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