Massive increase in South Africans looking for citizenship in another country

International investment migration advisory firm Henley & Partners says it has seen an ‘unprecedented’ 40% increase in enquiries from South Africans seeking alternative residence and/or citizenship over the past 12 months.

The company has recorded an overall increase of 80% in enquiries globally, following an already record-breaking year in 2020, with South Africa fifth in terms of the number of requests to move, behind India, the US, Russia, and the UK.

Managing partner at Henley & Partners South Africa, Amanda Smit, said wealthy investors are scrambling to diversify their domiciles at the same time as their investment portfolios in a bid to secure greater global access and optionality as a hedge against the unrelenting market and political volatility.

“The endless rounds of quarantine and lockdowns, remote work and virtual schooling, and borders snapping shut and re-opening at will, have convinced even those investors from wealthy nations with premium passports of the benefits of alternative residence and/or citizenship.”

Smit said investment migration programmes that offer the option of a real estate investment as a pathway to residence rights or citizenship acquisition are particularly popular among South Africans.

“International real estate has always been a reliable asset class for global investors due to its long-term staying power.

“Real estate–linked investment migration programs have the additional advantages of enhancing your global mobility through multiple passports and expanding your personal access rights as a citizen or resident of additional jurisdictions, creating optionality in terms of where you and your family can live, work, study, retire, and invest.”

The potential gains over the lifetime of the investment include the core value of the asset, rental yields, and global access as an ultimate hedge against both regional and global volatility, she said.


One of the most popular programmes for South Africans is the Mauritius residence programme which allows foreign nationals to make a minimum real estate investment of $350,000 (R5.3 million) into the country and apply for a residence permit.

Successful applicants and their families are then granted full residence rights including the right to live, work, and retire in Mauritius, said Henley & Partners.

The island’s attractive tax regimes, political and social stability, and multiple investment opportunities, coupled with its warm hospitality, multiculturalism, and spectacular living environments, have made Mauritius a highly attractive destination on the continent for living, working, and retiring, it said.

“Aside from potential gains over the lifetime of the asset, an additional property can provide rental income in a strong and stable currency and offer geographical diversification via permanent residence or another citizenship, while at the same time offering distinct lifestyle or business advantages,” said Smit.

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