They come for a holidy and end up staying
More visitors from the United States and the United Kingdom are applying for permanent residence and extended visas in South Africa, according to local immigration experts.

Though statistics are not available, three busy immigration offices said that they had noticed this trend.

"Many American people... want to make South Africa their home," said Rod Maxwell, CEO of SA Migration International in Cape Town.

During the past year approximately 20 percent of his clients were American and 10 percent British.

Though the number of tourists to South Africa from the UK has remained consistently high during the past five years, there has been a 14 percent rise in tourists from the US in the last year, according to Statistics South Africa.

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"The feedback from Americans is they feel the America Dream is in decline and real estate is becoming too expensive," said Maxwell.

Julian Pokroy, chair of the Law Society of South Africa's Immigration and Refugee Committee, receives a lot of feedback from immigration lawyers around the country.

"The bulk of the Americans and English are single and they get caught up in the South African economy and often marry South African partners and more often than not apply for permanent residence," he said.

In addition to the trend of Americans and British citizens seeking long-term residence in the country, the number of South Africans returning from overseas continues to rise.

"Previously you would have seen South Africans who have been abroad for a long time choosing to live with their foreign spouses, whereas now we're starting to see that they are choosing South Africa as their destination," said Martine Schaffer of Homecoming Revolution, a non-profit organisation that encourages the return of expatriates.

She said: "There are opportunities existing in South Africa now and with the buoyant economy we have people who want to start their own businesses and this is the ideal place to do that."

American Deborah Lowe married a South African living in the US and six months ago they decided to immigrate to Cape Town.

"We can live a much better lifestyle on our income here than we could in America and we don't have to work as hard for it. There is a better balance between work and play," she said. -

  • This article was originally published on page 7 of Pretoria News on January 24, 2006

Article by: Rebecca Rosenberg - www.iol.co.za