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Next big wave of skilled workers, emigrants leaving SA - political analyst

Aug 09 2019 16:02
Compiled by Carin Smith

Emigration rates from South Africa surged by about 20% in 2018/2019, which can be described as the start of the next big wave of skilled workers and emigrants leaving for greener pastures, according to political analyst and author Dr Johann van Rooyen.

South Africa is losing at least 25 000 emigrants per year and about 1 000 high net worth individuals, joining the estimated 1.5 million South African expats abroad, says Van Rooyen.

He has been tracking South African emigration since the publication of his book The New Great Trek in 2000. He believes the current generation of younger emigrants with in-demand skills wants to be part of the globally mobile workforce trend.

"For this generation, foreign work visas, residence permits, and second passports have become sought-after commodities which can provide the financial and personal security they view as non-negotiable in the current climate," says Van Rooyen.

"They are joined by tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and retirees, eager to reduce their risk and to become globally mobile." 

The last straw

According to Van Rooyen, for many South Africans, the last straw has been persistently high rates of violent crime, political and financial instability, and 18 months of infighting within the ruling African National Congress.

According to the latest Jack Hammer Executive Report, 86% of the top South African executives said they could seriously consider a move overseas.

In Van Rooyen's new book, Global Mobility and Migration 2019: A Guide for Skilled Workers, Entrepreneurs, Retirees, Investors, and Refugees, he examines five main categories available to would-be South African emigrants and he covers 40 host countries.

These include skilled migration options and the points systems of Australia, New Zealand, and the UK; entrepreneurial and business options such as start-up entrepreneur and business innovation visas in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates; and the EB5 and E2 visas in the US. 

Van Rooyen also looks at fast and lower-cost investment migration options with a commitment of less than $250 000 and achievable within a timeframe of less than one year, as well as easy and low-cost residence options available to retirees aged 55 years and over, who can show an income from pensions, interest, dividends and annuities.

He covers 30 retiree destinations, such as Panama's Pensionados visa, requiring a pension from a government or private corporation of $1 000 (about R15 000) per month; Thailand's Elite Visa programme allowing foreigners to live in the country for 20 years for a once-off payment of $56 000 (about R840 000) plus a $600 (about (R9 000) annual membership fee; Portugal's Passive Income Visa, requiring an income of $1 400 (about R21 000) per month; and Argentina's retirement visa, requiring proof of retiree status and three recent bank statements showing a monthly pension of at least $670 (about R10 000).

sa economy  |  expat tax  |  emigration


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