Foreign spouses treated as minors
One reason that skilled expatriates are reluctant to return to South Africa is their spouses get treated as minors for five years, the Come Home Campaign said.
Current migration legislation denies foreign spouses access to a South African identity number for their first five years in the country. Without an identity number, it is difficult to get employed and nearly impossible to complete standard transactions like opening a bank account or getting financing for a vehicle.
Head of the Come Home Campaign Alana Bailey said migration legislation has been toughened in an effort to prevent illegal immigration via marriages of convenience.
This has made it more difficult for legal and often highly skilled spouses to settle in South Africa while illegal immigrants are still pouring across the border.
If a couple has already spent a year or longer together in a verifiable spousal relationship abroad, then the spouse of the South African citizen should get a residence permit, which provides automatic access to a South African identity number, employment, and entrepreneurial and study opportunities.