South Africans want a passport in each hand

South African citizens can enter 97 countries with a South African passport without requesting a visa beforehand. Still, there are growing numbers who apply for foreign citizenship or residence, which some see as a “safety net” that provides better education and business opportunities.

“Until the end of last year [2014], we would get an emigration inquiry about once every two weeks. Now we are fielding about nine or 10 emigration inquiries a day”, Chris Watters, a lawyer working on immigration and emigration issues, told the Mail & Guardian. He said his law office in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, had seen a spike in demand in the past six months. 

While some South African citizens resort to their family history to obtain a second passport, others turn to specialised lawyers.

Citizenship by investment programmes is an option for the well-heeled: countries such as Malta sell residence permits or citizenship in exchange for financial investment in the country.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Malta and Cyprus are among the most popular options to South Africans seeking to emigrate. Each has a citizenship or residence-permit programme established by its government. 


Henley & Partners, a company that specialises in residence and citizenship programmes such as these, opened an office in South Africa three years ago.

Vice-chairperson Andrew Taylor has confirmed an increase in demand. “There has been an increase of 50% more inquiries from South Africans in comparison to the same time last year.”

The pace of queries has been accelerating. The company now receives five to 10 a day.

Taylor says his clients plan to emigrate because it will provide their children with opportunities to work and study more easily. The company has also had inquiries from those running global businesses who need access to Europe or Northern America. 

Taylor acknowledged that his clients were among the wealthiest 5% in the country. The emigrant needs to invest up to £2-million (about R39-million) to buy a permanent UK residency permit and, after five years, apply for citizenship. In Cyprus, they’d have to invest R34-million to be granted citizenship straight away.

Here is a list of countries South Africans may apply to and their related financial requirements, according to Henley & Partners.

Henley & Partners has seen a spike in demand in the past 18 months that coincides with the Maltese government contracting the company to recruit new citizens: 70% of the firm’s South African clients now choose a Maltese passport, which requires them to disburse around R11.5-million in investments and fees. Portugal ranks second among the company’s clients. 

Danilo Ghirlando, honorary consul for Malta for the past five years, declined to divulge how many South Africans had applied for citizenship, but said the number of applications had “roughly doubled” since he took up this position. 

Information according to Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2014

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Reflections on George Bizos, on whose shoulders we stand

The conviction of young activists is going to play a huge role in sustaining and improving on the legacy of our struggle heroes

Citizenship can’t be taught in a module

Universities have an ethical duty to cultivate safe and inclusive spaces of recognition and respect

Schools expel children with no IDs

A case at the Makhanda high court this week could be the only hope for those who don’t have birth certificates to attend school

Systemic prejudice in the UK, and visa refusals for African academics

Accusations of racism continue to be directed towards the UK following an inquiry concerning denials of visit visas for African applicants

Democracy needs to be democratised

Too few South Africans are able to participate in systems that allow their voices to be heard

Citizens of nowhere suffer social and physical deprivations

Statelessness is an affront to human rights and a breach of international law, and countries must be forced to put an end to it
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday