South African Immigration

by TessaSchlesinger

It has been estimated that one third of South Africans have immigrated to other countries. Learn what immigrants face in other countries.

One third of South Africans Are Currently Living Outside South Africa
Something like one third of South Africans are expat. That means that they are living in other countries. The great migration probably started around 1948 with the introduction of apartheid and it never stopped. Through the turbulent years of South African history, there would be increases and decreases in immigration, for example, after Sharpsville, and after apartheid was finally dismantled.

The Reasons People Change Countries

Why People Immigrate

There are many reasons people leave their country of birth. For some, it’s a matter of further education. For others, it’s an economic necessity. Still others are political refugees. In South Africa, all those come into play, but probably the biggest current reason is the extreme criminal violence in the country. It is the most violent country in the world outside an active war zone.

This perceived isolation will, for the foreseeable future, continue to drive people, especially young people in search of bigger, brighter things, to explore at length abroad. (Of course, an irony of Perth’s vast SA ex-pat population is, as Rick Crosier mentions later, that it’s considered to be the most isolated city in the world

How Austrailians View South Africans
Hardworking and flexible, but aggressive and impatient. Does this sound like you? It isn't that the behaviour of South Africans is necessarily wrong, but it's certainly different to what is widely accepted here.

How Many South Africans Live Overseas?
But the UK still leads the way when it comes to the number of South African-born individuals living within the country’s borders; figures from the past few years have revealed that the number of South African-born people in Australia stood at 155, 690 whilst there were 227,000 in the UK. This does not include the number of children born to South African parents in Britain.

How many South Africans have left the country
In 2006 the South African Institute of Race Relations estimated - by comparing the figures in Stats SA household surveys from 1995 and 2005 (as well as analysing other data) - that 841 000 white South Africans had left the country in that period.

Leaving Friends and Familiarity Behind

Cost of Immigration

When people begin to think about immigration, several points of acceptance along a journey have been reached. One point of acceptance might be leaving family and life long friends behind. Another point of acceptance might be going to a country where one often doesn’t know a single soul. Still another point of acceptance might be leaving a familiar culture behind and stepping into a way of doing things that is strange. The language will be different and the people will be different. Perhaps, the value of familiarity can only really be understood when it is no longer there.


The Financial Cost of Immigration

What it costs to Immigrate

The financial cost of immigration is enormous. I’ve done it twice now, and it’s not just a matter of buying a ticket on an airline out of a country. There are numerous police checks, consulate visits, vaccinations, medical check-ups, cost of shipping possessions, etc. When relocating from the United Kingdom to America, I had to have a full medical to determine that I didn’t have any transmittable diseases. I also needed to have a full police check in both South Africa and England. When one is doing this for the entire family, it’s an enormous operation. In terms of money and effort. One probably also needs at least a year’s income plus the cost of resettling in the new country before takikng the step. It’s neither cheap nor easy.

Consult Immigration Experts

Of course, you might want to know more specific details after reading this article.

Here are a list of Immigration experts.

If you're thinking of immigrating to Canada or best information about Canadian immigration.

If you're thinking of immigrating to the United States.

You can't just go and live in another country... There are certain requirements.

Immigration Requirements

Every country has immigration requirements. Most South Africans have relocated to Australia as the country of choice. Others have gone to New Zealand, England, Europe, America, and South America. America is the most difficult to get into and England probably the easiest. Ergo, I went to the UK first. However, I also carry dual nationality (half German) so I didn’t need to immigrate to the UK. I just relocated. I had to immigrate to America, however.

Most countries work on a point score. Under a certain age has a higher score than over a certain age. Speaking the language of the country has a high score. Not speaking it has a low score. Having a qualification or skills that the country is short of gives a high score. Not having anything to offer in that arena gives a low score. Having mega million bucks to set up a business and employ nationals of the new country gets a high score. Not bringing money has a low score. The higher one’s score, the more likely the country is to accept one as an immigrant. It has become increasingly difficult to immigrate in recent years, however, as some countries feel that they simply have too many immigrants.

The South African Diaspora

The Green Card Lottery and More

USA Immigration Requirements

America has two immigration aspects that other countries don’t have. Close immediate family in America allows one to immigrate to it. The other one is the Green Card Diversity Lottery (this is how I immigrated). The Green Card Diversity Lottery allows 50,000 individuals to gain entrance each year as a legal entity, provided they come from one of the countries where individuals from that country don’t often immigrate to the USA. Ergo, Brits and Mexicans can’t enter the Green Card lottery. However, South Africans and nationals from most European countries can.


Saying Goodbye to One’s Birth Country

Goodbye South Africa

There is always an element of heartbreak involved in leaving a country. It doesn’t matter how terrible the situation is in that country. First generation immigrants seldom feel at ‘home’ in their new countries. A country is as much part of one’s inner home as one’s parents are. There is also a strong cultural identity that is never the same in other countries.

Are you an Ex-Pat?

Settling into a New and Different Culture

This is probably one of the most difficult things imaginable. Some countries have similar cultures to each other. South Africans migrate to Australia because the life style is similar to the South African one. Some find their way to the UK because the culture is similar – at least for English speaking South Africans. Going to a South American country, an Asian one, or America accentuates just how different cultures can be. And it’s not easy. Even if one loves aspects of one’s new culture and/or language, there are many misunderstandings, some of which never really disappear.

Levels of closeness to people differ. In South America, people are much closer to each other. In America, there’s a lot more distance between people. In England, one understates everything. In America, there’s a lot of hype. In South Africa, the front door is always open for unexpected visitors. In neither England or America would that be acceptable. In Germany, life is much more formal. In Australia, it’s about as informal as it can get. The older one is, the more difficult it is to adjust.

Chosing which country

How to Immigrate to another country

Immigration is tough and not everybody qualifies to gain entry into the country they would prefer. How to Immigrate to Another Country is an ebook written to provide options for those who are looking to immigrate. It takes into consideration that some many people are past the optimal age, don't have a Master's degree in Science, or have relatives living in the country that they would like to. There are far more options than originally thought. Read How to Immigrate to Another Country.

I wrote the book and it's received five stars. I've lived in South Africa, Lesotho, England, Germany, Spain, and the USA. I have a South African passport, a German passport, and an American Green Card. I know a little bit about it... :)

If you are ex-pat, would you do it again knowing what you know now?

Tot Siens South Africa - Till we meet again...

Saying goodbye to South Africa is not an easy thing to do. Some have to learn new languages. Others have to take whatever country they can get. Many start off in other countries with a much lower standard of living. While some have returned to South Africa because it is very difficult to adapt to a new culture, others remain, content that their children are safe. In most countries, there are so many South Africans that get-togethers can be organized with a bit of effort. Sometimes it requires travel to another city, but many make the journey in order to feel the 'home culture.'

South africans who have immigrated
South africans who have immigrated

Is the Price of Immigration Worth It?
Generally, people don’t immigrate for themselves, but for their children. It is the children who are given the opportunity of a better life. The children adopt the new country as their own. Is the price worth it? Only time will tell. After nearly a decade in the United States, I'm still battling, and knowing what I know now, I'm not sure I would have made the decision. One's roots are deeper than one thinks. That said, without doubt, my daughter has flourished, and I would make the decision yes, yes, and yes, again.

Updated: 02/08/2013, TessaSchlesinger
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TessaSchlesinger on 02/08/2013

Mike, it is difficult. But when one lives in a country that is numbered the most dangerous in the world outside an active war zone, one makes a choice.... :)

teddletonmr on 02/08/2013

Tess, thanks for sharing your insights on immigration. Leaving one's home land must be hard. One must believe the means justify the end,
Be well, Mike :)

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