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The Great Exodus: Why Thousands of South African Professionals Are
Headed to Canada

In recent years, South Africa has faced a significant brain drain, with thousands of skilled professionals seeking opportunities abroad. Canadian immigration consultant Nicholas Avramis from Beaver Immigration Consulting has observed a notable surge in South African professionals applying to move to Canada. Here, we explore the reasons behind this trend and the implications for the country.

The Rise of Canadian Immigration Applications

Avramis reported a 31% increase in the processing of Canadian work permit applications from South Africans. By the end of 2023, over 4,000 immigration applications had been processed, a significant increase of more than 1,000 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, his offices have received approximately 17,000 inquiries from South Africans looking to move from January 2023 to date.

Healthcare Professionals Lead the Charge

The majority of these applications are submitted by healthcare workers, followed by trades and businesses. The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is a major reason why South African healthcare workers are leaving, with many not willing to wait and find out what the scheme will mean for their livelihoods in South Africa.

Canada’s Competitive Advantage

Avramis highlighted that the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada recognizes South Africa’s healthcare education, making it a plug-and-play scenario for healthcare professionals. Additionally, Canada’s competitive salaries and better work-life balance are major draws for professionals seeking a change.

Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Also Flocking to Canada

Inter-company transfers and the start-up visa program have seen a significant increase in applications from South African business owners and entrepreneurs. Canada’s recognition of major local university qualifications and similar spoken languages and lifestyles make it an attractive destination for these professionals.

Uncertainty and Economic Factors Drive the Exodus

Avramis noted that high unemployment, poor economic growth, and uncertainty around the 2024 elections and new legislation such as the NHI are contributing factors to the trend. This trend is expected to continue, with over 500 immigration enquiries from South Africa recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic, and this number increasing almost tenfold within five years.


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