Skip to main content

Emigration From South Africa: Interesting Destinations

By October 29, 2019June 27th, 2023FinGlobal

Emigration From South Africa: Interesting Destinations

October 29, 2019


When you ask where South Africans are immigrating to, the answers that immediately come to mind are Australia, New Zealand, USA and UK. But have you considered these interesting alternative countries saffas are exploring? There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people who undertake emigration from South Africa (approximately 300 000 South Africans per year according to The Daily Maverick on the 1st of October 2019). It’s not just ordinary South Africans looking to fly the coop, as more high net worth individuals are internationalising themselves, their wealth, and their businesses. Immigration through investment has attracted numerous South Africans in recent years as you will see below.


Countries to immigrate to from South Africa

Leaving South Africa means becoming a global citizen. These days South Africans are choosing their countries to immigrate to based on affordability and efficiency of the residency application process, which indicates that people are more concerned with establishing a foothold abroad than with a specific destination.

Let’s take a look at some of the dreamy destinations that are appealing to South Africans, with all the attractions of easy, simple and/or affordable residency options for locals looking to become global citizens.


Grenada citizenship and the E-2 American visa

Think tropical forests, sandy beaches and picturesque waterfalls. While Grenada is overflowing with natural beauty and offers much to residents, the Grenadian Citizenship-by-Investment Programme doesn’t actually require you to live in or visit the country to apply. Say what? That’s right. Furthermore, Grenada is the only Caribbean country with visa-free access to China and there is also a strong citizenship-by-investment programme plus an E-2 Investor Visa Treaty with the United States, which allows Grenadian citizens the opportunity to apply for a non-immigrant visa.


Malta and Cyprus Individual Investors Programme

It’s not hard to get into that island lifestyle because Malta and Cyprus offer two of the most appealing citizenship-by-investment programmes for South Africans looking to emigrate. Investing in Malta has a pretty excellent short term return with the possibility of being granted EU citizenship within 18 months, which comes with  visa-free access to 182 countries including the UK and US. Even faster than Malta, Cyprus is always ready to welcome foreign money, which means it’s possible to get an EU citizenship in just six months. Their citizenship-by-investment programme is ideal for families and once you’re a Cypriot citizen, it’s valid for life and passed down for generations.


American EB-5 Investment Visas

The EB-5 Investor Visa is one of the fastest, most reliable routes to gaining permanent US residency. In this programme, immediate family is included and because it’s a nationwide federal-level scheme, it extends the right to residency in all states. (Top tip: Texas and Florida are free from state-level income tax!)

Holding an EB-5 visa is your ticket for your kids to access to the public education system at all age levels. What’s more, the USA is home to some of the world’s leading schools, providing a gateway into some of the top global universities, so if you’re academically ambitious for your children, this is a wonderful choice. 


Portugal’s Golden Visa and NHR programmes

Acquiring Portuguese (and European) citizenship for yourself and your family is as easy as investing in Portugal. One sound property investment will grant your family residency rights, and setting you up for eligibility to apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided you can meet their requirements, which includes a basic Portuguese language test.

One of the biggest perks of this route? The minimum-stay requirements are low – and you must only spend about a week out of each year in the country.  This is all thanks to the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) programme, which was started ten years ago in order to attract foreign investment. With a lucrative tax benefit, expats find Portugal an appealing retirement destination thanks to a 10-year tax break on qualifying foreign income – including private pensions and company dividends.



It might be the smallest country in South America, but Uruguay has the best national healthcare of any country in South America, among other attractions. Citizens are friendly and welcoming and this tiny country is one of the cleanest on the continent with some of the world’s lowest industrial pollution levels. Unlike most second citizenship programmes, Uruguay does not require an investment in the country. The applicant only needs to meet certain standard requirements to be eligible for residence.



With some of the most welcoming immigration laws on the planet, Panama is a fantastic option to consider if you’re looking for countries to immigrate to from South Africa. Panama uses the US Dollar and since the United States is on their friend list, it’s easy for you to get a long-term visa this way. It’s also possible to get a long-term retiree visa, all you need is a monthly income of at least $1,000. If you’re not looking to retire just yet, you can apply for a friendly nations visa that requires a $5,000 deposit in a Panamanian bank. Panamanian citizenship requires five years of residency, but it’s worth noting that Panama does not allow dual citizenship so you will have to renounce citizenship from South Africa.


FinGlobal: There to help you every step of the way

With an all-encompassing list of professionals, we’ve got certified financial planners, chartered accountants, tax specialists, and bankers providing expertise in all areas of cross-border finance. No matter where South Africans are immigrating to, FinGlobal has the reach and expertise to help them, every step of the way, and we’ve already made an impact on thousands of clients in over 105 countries by making their cross-border financial transactions smooth and painless.

So whether you’re a South African looking to move to a new country to futureproof your family life, or you’re starting the process of financial emigration, or even if you’re planning on staying but just want to diversify your investments into an offshore fund, FinGlobal’s capable team is ready to handle anything you throw our way. Get in touch today.

Leave a Reply