Whilst South Africa is not a nation that we cover in depth for our readers on Degtev, we would be stupid if we didn’t realise just how attractive a country it is with so many would be expatriates!  With its incredible landscapes, fascinating history, fabulous climate and internationally orientated economy and business climate, gaining residence or getting a work visa in South Africa is becoming more desirable for increasing numbers of people.

Whilst the majority of those who move to live in South Africa are considered ‘economically inactive’ – i.e., they are retired or living off savings and investments, residing temporarily in the country or perhaps studying there, there are increased opportunities for those who want to go and live and actually work or start a business in SA since there has been a ten fold increase in international trade in the nation.

What’s more, there are many international companies with operations in SA who employ skilled and professional expatriate workers, so if you’re interested in escaping the UK for a better physical climate and personal economic outlook, here’s what you need to know…

Skilled Workers and South Africa

Unlike Australia or the USA for example, there is no points based system upon which would-be immigrants are assessed in South Africa.  So, if you’re considered a skilled migrant and you want to move to work or establish a business in SA you can, but you can’t apply for a skills based visa.

How a Worker Gets a Visa

If you’re going to go and work in South Africa then your best bet is to travel the route of finding a job, getting a job offer, securing a work visa, getting temporary residence, moving to South Africa and then applying for permanent residence.  The first hurdle is finding that job – you need a firm offer of employment and your employer has to demonstrate why you, and not a local, needs to come and live in SA and take up the job posting in question.  Look online and in South African newspapers for job listings, contact recruitment agencies and also directly target would-be employers.  Once you have a firm job offer you’ll probably find the rest falls into place.  Contact the South African Department of Home Affairs for all visa information.

Family Based Migration

If you have family ties in SA these can help you get residency permission.  If for example you’re married to a South African, you can gain permanent residency relatively easily as long as you fulfil the criteria relating to being of good character etc.  However, depending on how tenuous a family link you have to an individual in SA, this may only slightly positively influence your residency application.

Moving to South Africa to Start a Business

If you want to move your business to South Africa or open a new business locally, that is entirely possible and in most instances, strongly encouraged.  There are however very strict criteria to meet for business migration that relate to everything from the number of local people you will be employing to remittance of capital etc.  If you have a strong business plan, you will employ locals and be willing to invest locally you’re going to be made welcome!  You should seek professional assistance with your business relocation or establishment however, this is because the bureaucracy is complicated, and once you’re on the way to being operational, this should bring with it residency benefits.

Retirees and Economically Inactive Expatriates

If you are in receipt of a pension or investment income or you have about 1.5 million Rand in the bank and you’re willing to invest half of it in South Africa, there are visa types that will suit you.  For retirees, if you can show that you’re in receipt of a regular monthly income sufficient to fund your lifestyle in SA and that you’re of good character and are healthy etc., you can get a residency permit.  For would-be investors there are also visa classes to suit you.  Again you have to meet basic conditions relating to your character and health, and you can contact the South African Department of Home Affairs as your first port of call in your hunt for visa application forms.

And Finally – How Long Does an Application Take to Receive Approval?

Or in other words, how long is a piece of string?!  Depending on the visa type you apply for, an application can take anywhere from between a few weeks to a few months to be approved or rejected.  We have heard tales of people with firm job offers being approved for a work permit in a matter of days, and of those with complicated business affairs having to wait more than a year to be able to relocate everything to South Africa.  So the best rule of thumb is to apply well in advance of your ideal relocation date for a residency permit to go and start a brand new life abroad in stunning South Africa.