More South Africans are emigrating to the United States (US) in search of a better lifestyle and job opportunities.
According to data provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, between 2015 and 2017 around 10,200 South Africans obtained permanent resident status.
These include people who received a ‘green card’, were admitted as temporary nonimmigrants, granted asylum or refugee status, or were naturalised.
This number has continued to slowly increase in recent years, with just under 70 South Africans leaving every week, or 9 people a day.
While many of these people will be families that emigrate together, there is growing concern that these South Africans are taking valuable skills with them.
The latest data shows that the largest number of visas are given to South Africans who are relatives of US citizens (around 40%).
This is followed by employment-based visas (29%) and the diversity visa programme – also known as the green card lottery (9%).
However, it is important to note that the green-card lottery is not open every year and is open to a small group of applicants.
Making the jump
The Department of Home Affairs does not keep record of South Africans who emigrate permanently; however, receiver countries do keep track of immigrants, which gives an indication of how many people are actually leaving.
According to this data, the United Kingdom remains the most popular destination for South African immigrants, followed by Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
This is backed up by surveys conducted by American think tank Pew Research, which found that there were at least 900,000 people born in South Africa living in other countries in 2017.
For these South Africans, the United Kingdom was the destination of choice, with 210,000 migrants as of 2017. However, it was closely followed by Australia (190,000) and the USA (100,000).
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