Statistics South Africa recently released its report providing statistics on the number of temporary residency permits and permanent residency permits granted by the Department of Home Affairs during 2105 in South Africa.
In total 81 473 applications were approved in 2015. Of these, 75 076 were temporary residence permits (TRPs) and 6 397 were permanent residence permits (PRPs).
Temporary residence permits:
The TRPs were grouped into ten types of permits. The four most prominent among them were: visitor’s, relative’s, study and work permits, which together made up 94,6% of the 75 076 TRPs issued. The remaining six types were waiver, medical treatment, business, retired person’s, treaty and exchange permits, which made up 5,4% of the permits.
The recipients were mainly young adults with a median age of 32 years. Although the recipients came from several countries in the world, more than half, 67.5% of them were from the following ten countries: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, UK, DRC, Germany and Angola.
There were more TRP recipients (51,0%) from the African region than from the overseas region (48,5%). Information on African subregions indicates that there were more SADC (47,9%) recipients than from other subregions. Asia (63,6%) recorded more recipients compared to other overseas subregions. Nationals from North Africa (4,3%) and Australasia (1,1%) received very few permits.
The ten leading countries from overseas were: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, UK, Germany, USA, the Netherlands, France and Thailand. Similarly, from the African region, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, DRC, Angola, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia were identified as the top ten countries.
Information on the distribution of the types of permit by region and subregion indicates that visitor’s, relative’s, work and study permits were the four major permits given to overseas nationals. The ranking of the permits differed among the subregions. The sequence (in descending order) for the nationals from the African region was: relative’s, visitor’s, study and work permits. Whilst there were obvious differences in the proportional allocations of the permits among the overseas recipients, those of the African recipients tended to cluster. Thus there was not much difference between the proportion who received relative’s, visitor’s and study permits.
The largest number of work permits was received by nationals from China and India, while nationals from Bangladesh received more relative’s permits. Furthermore, nationals from Germany, the Netherlands, Thailand, USA and UK received more visitor’s permits. Ethiopia was the only country from the top ten African countries with the majority of her nationals receiving business permits. Most of the nationals from Uganda, Malawi and Ghana received relative’s permits. On the other hand, most nationals from DRC and Angola received study permits.
The results on the median ages of the top ten countries from overseas and Africa show that generally, the recipients were young adults in their early 30s. Nationals from France had the lowest median age of 30 years, whilst those from UK had the highest median age of 38 years.
Permanent residence permits:
Over half (68,1%) of the 6 397 PRPs were issued based on the work category status, whereas 20,7% were based on recipients of the relative’s category status. The remaining 11,2% of the permits were distributed among business (5,6%), refugee (3,2%), retired person’s (1,8%) and waiver (0,6%) category statuses. Zimbabwe, India, China, Nigeria, DRC, UK, Pakistan, Ghana, Germany and Lesotho were the top ten countries taking a combined share of 76,1% of the PRPs. The recipients of PRPs in 2015 were generally in their late 30s with a median age of 38 years.
The regional distribution of the recipients indicates that there were more recipients from Africa (60,5%) than those from overseas (39,5%). The top ten countries from Africa were Zimbabwe, Nigeria, DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia. Nationals from these countries received 89,3% of the PRPs given to recipients from Africa.
From the overseas region, India, China, UK, Pakistan, Germany, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Italy, USA and France were the top ten overseas countries. Together they collected 82,1% of the permits for overseas nationals.
The sequencing pattern of the distribution of the category status was generally similar for all the subregions, with most recipients using work, relative’s, business, retired person’s and waiver permits (in descending order) to apply for PRPs.
The allocation of the top ten leading countries from all regions indicate that the five African countries received 47,9% of PRPs, whereas five countries from overseas received 28,2% of PRPs.
Zimbabwe (33,6%) had more nationals who received permanent residence permits in 2015. Zimbabwe (85,9%), Cameroon (68,9%), Ghana (68,8%) and Zambia (68,4%) are the African countries that received higher proportions of work permits. India (85,0%) and China (82,3%) had relatively high proportions of recipients who obtained the permit based on the work category status. UK (44,1%), Bangladesh (42,9%) and the Netherlands (42,6%) showed a relatively high proportion of recipients who obtained the permit based on the relative’s category status.
The results on the distribution of the median ages of nationals from the ten top countries for the overseas region show that India and Bangladesh recipients were the youngest (35 years), whereas those from UK (52 years) were the oldest. In the case of the African region, the youngest and the oldest groups were nationals from Cameroon (35 years) and Ethiopia (39 years), respectively.
The findings based on the 2015 data have revealed that the recipients of temporary and permanent residence permits were widely distributed across the world. However, despite this widespread distribution, the findings on the various ten leading countries show clustering of nationality around relatively few countries. Both types of permits show a concentration of recipients from countries such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, China, India, Pakistan and UK.
The findings also show that South Africa closely follows the general international criteria for eligibility for either a temporary or permanent residence permit. These tend to be relative’s or family reunification; work, employment and skills; business and investments; study and humanitarian grounds (asylum seekers and refugees). Since these criteria and types are heavily influenced by government policies, they are not static but subject to change. For example, a government policy that currently encourages immigration of international students to study in the country may change to a more stringent one in the near future. Such a change will affect the issuance of study permits, thus changing the future statistical results on study permits. The monitoring of these changes becomes quite effective using data from efficient permit issuance administrative sources.
The administrative, political, economic and social environments in South Africa and the potential sending countries can impact positively or negatively on immigration to South Africa. For example, amendments to the Immigration Act or changes in the requirements and procedures for processing applications can affect the annual number of issued permits. The flow data on documented immigrants are an effective source of data that can be used to monitor and evaluate the short- and long-term effects of government policies and legislations on immigration (e.g.the first and second objectives of the 2002 Immigration Act).
One of the laws of migration is that not everyone is likely to move. Hence, migration is highly selective. Sex and age are among the prominent personal characteristics of an individual that contribute to the decision to move or not to move into another country. The data on the age structure of the 2015 recipients, to some extent, followed the expected pattern of young populations found in less developed countries (i.e. for African countries) and older populations in more developed countries (i.e. for overseas countries). Besides the working population, the relatively large number of students from Africa and retired persons from overseas also are reflected in the age structure.
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