Sunday, January 31, 2010

Emigrating From South Africa

At the outset let me say that I am not the person to write this. Although I have both emigrated to and from South Africa, this piece needs to be part of a neverending series dedicated to spreading as much information as possible about the processes involved for those who have just had enough of their 16 years of ANC rule and have decided to leave.

There is so much in the way of information you will need, here is a quick summary of just some of the good and bad news involved.

On the bad side, much of the world doesn't want you unless you are a doctor or an engineer. This is mostly an economic thing and may not last forever.

Because you are now "an African" you are lumped in a category that includes a lot of people most countries do not want more of, and PC-dogma means you will not be given the benefit of the doubt for being Westernised. Many foreign visas are becoming more and more difficult to come by, while even for professionals, the interferering social-engineers of the ANC are busily telling the rest of the world not to poach SA's valuable professionals. That's valuable, by the way, not valued.

Many professional qualifications obtained in South Africa's increasingly dumbed-down universities are looked on with suspicion by foreign employers, while fees for visa applications, qualifications assessments and medical examinations have been ratcheted up to obscene levels.
While Mrs.Viking and I handed over wads of cash in Cape Town for our medical exams, the receptionist cheerily noted how, in comparison, the Somali "refugees" -resident in South Africa - were having all theirs paid for in full by the Canadian government, along with their air fares.

Dealing with foreign embassies is also no picnic. Most of them seem to be as inefficient as much of the public sector in SA, and many of them are hard to get information out of. It is better to be aware of this than not, as it can come as an unpleasant surprise.

It's not all doom and gloom, however, as there are other options available, and it would be foolish to suggest otherwise as there are now a massive number of South Africans living permanently or semi-permanently overseas. As a result, everyone knows someone who lives in another country, and so there are support systems in place for any would-be migrants. There are also large social networks that can ease the transition to a new country.

Dealing with foreign Immigration Departments is the biggest barrier, and this can be incredibly frustrating. Waiting lists are long, but it should be possible for South Africans to bypass large numbers of other applicants. If you speak English well, you have a huge advantage. The Australian and UK English language proficiency exams are not difficult, for example, and will pose no problems.

South Africa has a decent education system in place, and you must consider getting yourself some sort of qualification if you do not have one. Anything from plumbing to cabinet-making, to cheffing and boiler-servicing can be a special need in your desired country; Canada in particular has a long list of labour requirements. Australia requires anyone skilled in the trades.

European countries often have ancestry visas, and South Africans, being a multicultural bunch, can often fit in this category. Although, at this stage we can assume that anyone qualified has already looked at this option. Some countries are more lax than others - one friend of mine got an Irish passport from a grandparent quicker than a British one through her parent.

These are just some broad guidelines, but we all know from experience that things are not as clear cut as many of us were led to believe. Immigration applications are handled by people, who are often immigrants themselves, and are prone to losing documents, giving out wrong information, and being downright petty and stupid when it comes to dealing with applicants. Worse too is the power they have been given over the livelihoods of others.

We would like to keep a file of information for possible emigrants, as well as stories from those who have already made the leap. Any contributions on the subject are welcome.

3 Opinion(s):

SA Greek said...

Its so sad that most of us are forced to leave ( or left already ).I am afraid we ll become like the Rhodesians.Born in a country that no longer exists.People that got their history "wiped out".I saw a very good documentary on TV once,about the genocide of Rhodesian farmers.A woman was crying while saying "This is our land also.They just cant wipe us all out.They just cant.".But unfortunately they do and nobody cares.

Exzanian said...

Lots of UK descendants still in ZA. For the UK you can get your passport if one of your grandparents was born in the UK, but your child will not be able to apply on their own, later in life. The line is drawn there. If you have not already, you owe it to your kids to get your UK passport now, (thereby securing their's) even if you don't intend leaving ZA yourself in the immediate future. If your spouse is a UK national, just as easy except you will not get a passport, but a visa entry for life...(I'm sure the same will apply for any other European country) Forms available online from the consulate website. Simple. (I think it is still £80 for a passport) and get cracking!...

bbb said...

We aren't emigrants in the true sense, more like exiles or refugees.

Although I don't agree with all this person says - I think she and her rich liberal kind would have called us chicken runners 10 years ago as they weren't yet affected by crime in the Cape like we were in Joburg. I think they finally left when their money couldn't buy them apartheid anymore...

But she put it in a way I can totally agree with: