South Africa

Here is how thousands of South Africans are migrating to Canada, New Zealand, USA, UK and Australia

South Africa has seen a major outflow of thousands of people to Canada, New Zealand and Australia over the past few years.

The statistics services for Canada showed that between 2015 and 2020, there were 25,000 South Africans who had either obtained temporary status, permanent residency or citizenship in Canada.

There has been a 37.5% rise in the number of South Africans entering Canada prior to the Covid-19 global pandemic in 2020, with data showing that around 5,000 South Africans enter the Canadian immigration system for processing every year, said Statistics Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, 5,000 South Africans enter the Canadian immigration system for processing every year.

Alongside Canada, New Zealand has become a major hot spot for South Africans to become permanent residents. Within just the first half of 2022, between January and May, 11,300 South Africans have had their residency applications approved for processing in New Zealand.

This far outweighs the number of people who moved to the island nation over the whole of 2021 at 8,300.

According to data from the UN, New Zealand is the fourth most popular destination for South African expats, preceded by the UK, Australia and the United States.

Stats published by the UK Home Office show that between Q1 2020 and Q3 2021, 5,845 citizenship grants were awarded to South Africans relocating to the country. This includes naturalisations based on marriage, residency and registrations on other grounds.

The latest update from Stats Australia shows that at the end of 2021, there were 201,930 South Africans living in the country – 2,230 more than recorded at the end of 2020. Over 40,000 South Africans moved to Australia between 2011 and 2021.

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security’s data shows that 652 South Africans have obtained resident status so far in 2022, with 2,386 passing in 2021.

Australia has also established itself as a go-to place for South Africans wanting to leave the country. The latest update from Statistics Australia showed that at the end of 2021, there were 201,900 South Africans living in the country, up 2,200 when compared to 2020.

Understanding the extent to which South Africans leave the country is difficult as the Department of Home Affairs and Statistics South Africa currently does not track emigration. However, the United Nations does keep data on migrant stock and where South Africans have emigrated.

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ 2020 International Migrant Stock report, there were 914,000 taking up residency outside the country, up significantly from 2015 (786,000):

Country Number of SA emigrants (end-2020)
Australia 199 700
New Zealand 73 800
Canada 48 100

Countless surveys have pointed to massive emigration as a threat to the sinking tax bracket and the loss of high-demand skills in the country.

Data from New World Wealth that surveyed wealthy South Africans recently revealed that safety concerns, rolling blackouts, corruption and economic stagnation are some of the main reasons for their departure.

Dalya Ketz, managing director at Gcubed Boutique Recruitment, said South Africans are seeking to leave the country are going to countries like Canada and New Zealand as they offer attractive job opportunities.

Mass emigration is expected to continue, with data from BrandMapp showing that almost a third of people want to leave in the next five years.

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