Immigrants to SA ‘mostly from Zimbabwe’

2014-07-15 14:51

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Zimbabwe contributes the greatest number of immigrants to South Africa, Statistician General Pali Lehohla has said.

“As you can see [from the report], Zimbabwe accounts for the lion’s share,” he said in Johannesburg today at the release of a statistical report on documented immigrants in South Africa for last year..

Some 1 939 permanent residence permits were granted to Zimbabweans last year, accounting for 29% of such permits.

The neighbouring country accounted for 18 899 temporary residence permits, or 19% of the total number of these permits.

Lehohla said data on illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and people not granted permits in 2013 was not included in the report.

The effect of new immigration laws on such statistics - if any - remained to be seen, he said.

“The intention of the new law is to increase efficiency ... That will only be seen in the future.”

According to the study, some 108 711 temporary and permanent residence permits were granted last year. Of these, 6 801 were for permanent residence.

In both categories, most immigrants were in their 30s. However, a fifth of permanent permits were granted for children aged 14 or younger.

“Migrants tend to migrate towards urban areas,” Lehohla said.

The age profile of immigrants meant cities needed to be equipped, particularly with schools, to meet the extra demands of such populations.

“Not only are people coming for work, but children have to be catered for with schooling.”

The study found differences between the median age of people from African countries granted permanent residence and those from overseas.

Immigrants from the 10 major African countries tended to be younger than those from other continents.

The median age of those granted permanent residence was 30 for both Zambian and Somalian immigrants, 31 for those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 32 for those from Zimbabwe.

In comparison, the average age for German immigrants was 46, while it was 43 for those from the United Kingdom and 41 from the Netherlands and South Korea.

The new regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a revised visa regime for South Africa. They distinguish between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.

Applications for visas must be made by the applicant in person. People wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa, but have to do so at missions abroad.

The new regulations also include strict rules applicable to children, defined as any person under the age of 18. Children travelling to and from South Africa must now produce an unabridged birth certificate with the names of both parents.

A child not travelling with both parents must supply either an affidavit from both parents giving them consent to travel and a court order indicating guardianship, or the death certificate of the other parent, copies of the parents’ or guardians’ identity documents or passports, as well as their contact details.

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