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There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to give you a dose of perspective to re-examine your priorities and come to the realisation that life is short. Health, safety, family and quality of living are the only things that really matter, and more South Africans are consciously choosing to prioritise these things. One of the most effective ways to focus on what matters is by seeking out a better life abroad, and the United States of America is one of the most popular immigration destinations for South Africans. If you’re considering immigration to the USA, let’s take a look at some of the reasons and requirements for leaving South Africa.

Moving to America from South Africa?

Reasons to pack your bags:

Access to excellent healthcare and world-class education are enough on their own to make America an attractive immigration destination for South Africans. Add in immense career prospects, plus limitless travel opportunities based on the strength of the U.S dollar and it’s no surprise that South Africans are clamouring to immigrate to the USA, and not even Trump’s foot-in-mouth disease can discourage them. Data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, suggests that between 2015 and 2017 alone around 10,200 South Africans obtained permanent resident status in the US.

With rising unemployment and crime levels, a comparison between South Africa and the USA hardly seems fair. The US has a solid financial reputation and is one of the strongest countries in the world, economically, capable of supporting more than 300 million people in 50 distinct states laid out over six time zones. South Africa’s unemployment rate is predicted to rise from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 to 40% before the end of the year thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown. On the other hand, the level of unemployment in the USA was around 14.1% in April 2020. Because the US has one of the strongest currencies in the world, earning a living in US Dollars is extremely attractive for South Africans, particularly for retirement and wealth preservation purposes. Most expats that immigrate to the USA find that the standard of living is more than comfortable.

If not in search of better opportunities for themselves, South Africans find themselves drawn to the United States because it provides the promise of unparalleled possibilities for their children. Known globally for the best of the best when it comes to education, America has half of the world’s top 20 colleges according to the QS World University Rankings. If your kids aren’t quite ready for the college experience, education in America is of an extremely high standard and its public school system is more than capable of meeting their needs and exceeding your expectations.

The numbers: how many South Africans are immigrating to the USA?

Because the South African Department of Home Affairs does not keep a record of people leaving the country, it’s hard to put an exact number on how many South Africans have learned to sing The Star Spangled Banner since immigrating to America, but it is estimated that 70 South Africans leave for the US on a weekly basis. How are they getting it right? Roughly 40% of South Africans are getting in on visas because they are related to US citizens, 29% are building their American dream on employment-based visas, while 9% are cashing in on playing the green card lottery, which is America’s diversity visa program.

What are the requirements for immigration to the USA from South Africa?

Immigrant visas to the United States from South Africa are processed in the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg. When it comes to immigrating to the US, there are choices:

  1. Family-Based Immigration
  2. Fiancé(e) Visa
  3. Employment-Based Immigration
  4. Diversity Visa

What you’ll need to immigrate to the USA: the basic requirements

  • Before you can apply for an immigrant visa you will need sponsorship from a US citizen or lawful permanent resident who is your immediate relative, or your prospective US employer; as well as an approved petition.
  • Your sponsor is the only one who can initiate the immigration process by filing a  petition on your behalf with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • There are a number of different types of immigrant visas that you can use to get into the USA, including their green card lottery. Learn more on the Directory of Visa Categories. 
    • After your petition receives the thumbs up from the USCIS and you’ve met their pre-processing requirements with the National Visa Center (NVC), or your number has come up in the green card lottery and you’ve completed processing with the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), you will receive further instructions as to what happens next.

While you wait, here is some essential reading on immigrating to the USA from South Africa:

FinGlobal: Financial services for South African expats

No matter where you choose to fly to, we’re ready to be the wind beneath your wings. FinGlobal offers South African expats trusted cross-border financial services, taking care of:

  • Financial emigration
  • Exiting the tax system
  • Foreign exchange
  • Tax clearance
  • Tax refunds
  • Retirement annuity withdrawals
  • Pension fund income transfers

Need a hand wrapping up your finances in South Africa once you’ve immigrated to the USA? Consider it done. Leave your contact details here and we’ll call you back to start your free, no-obligation assessment.