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Alternatives Available for South Africans Considering a Second-Passport

Many affluent South Africans are thinking about gaining citizenship of a second country. They may not wish to lay aside their South African citizenship immediately and obtain a second-passport; however, they do want to have an insurance policy, options for relocation or retirement, and perhaps a place that is safer for their family to work and study.

Every individual has different goals, nonetheless, certain places are consistently more attractive to a greater number of people, than others.

Second-Passport Citizenship South Africans
    Below we examine five destinations and the relevant types of investment immigration programs they offer. The United Kingdom, with 267,000 immigrants from South Africa in the last decade, according to government data, has been the number one choice in the past. The United States, with 111,000 was third (after Australia in second), but is growing in importance. In the last 5 years, in particular, interest in three new choices, Portugal, Malta and Grenada, has been developing quickly.


Though historically the most popular choice, Britain has become somewhat more difficult.   In February 2021, the Tier 1 Investor Programme was permanently closed.   Further, the BNO (British National Overseas) is usually not applicable for South Africans, being primarily associated with potential immigrants from the former British territory of Hong Kong.

This leaves three main pathways.   Many South Africans are of at least partial British descent.   The United Kingdom Citizenship-by-Ancestry Programme requires you to be a Commonwealth citizen, a British overseas citizen, a British Overseas Territories citizen, or a British national (overseas).   You must also have at least one grandparent born in Great Britain, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands in order to qualify.

The table below summarizes the key elements of the main programs for you.
(Please note: the table is a summary only. For more details, please talk to a trusted legal professional.)

The United Kingdom Residency-by-Investment Innovator Programme is for those with innovative commercial ideas, investing a minimum of GBP 50,000 in their own approved business or GBP 200,000 in a joint venture acceptable to the authorities.   They can apply for permanent residency (Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR) after 3 years and this in turn can lead to full citizenship.

The final option, the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, is for a senior decision-making executive of an active overseas business with no British presence.   Again, with time this can lead to citizenship.


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    The USA EB-5 Visa is a Residency-by-Investment Program (RBI) for people committing a minimum of USD 800,000.   They and their qualifying family can live in the United States under a conditional Green Card (conditional permanent residency status).   Within 2 years they may apply to remove the conditions and after 5 years of residence may seek permanent citizenship.

    The USA EB-2 Start-up Visa Program is for entrepreneurs whose ideas can increase economic growth.   This program grants an unconditional Green Card (permanent residency status) and a path to citizenship.    A minimum of USD 300,000 must be committed in a ratified manner.

    The EB-2 NIW category is a visa designed to attract qualified, experienced and exceptional professionals, who will significantly contribute to the American economy.   This visa category waives the requirement to provide an employment letter and grants a Green Card.  Given the current nation-wide shortage of qualified pilots, the USA is actively seeking experienced pilots and the NIW is therefore open to highly experienced pilots.   The conditions and process can be difficult, nevertheless this is an achievable route to citizenship.

    The USA E-2 Program is not a Green Card, but rather a non-immigrant visa granting rights to reside, work or study in the USA, subject to a substantial investment of around USD 250,000 in a qualifying business.  There are, nevertheless, provisions for such residents to pursue citizenship at a later time.   The applicant must be a resident of a country with an E-2 visa treaty with the United States.  Applicants who are not citizens of such a country can gain citizenship of Grenada, Montenegro, North Macedonia or Turkey, and then apply to the United States.


    “We have seen demand for visas from these three nations increase dramatically in the last few years,” reveals Jean-François Harvey, Founder and Global Managing Partner of Harvey Law Group. “Many people feel that the requirements and cost are more practical given their personal circumstances.”

    Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme is a Residency-by-Investment Program that allows South Africans and their families to live in Portugal.   A minimum investment of EUR 280,000 is needed and after 5 years citizenship is possible.

    The Malta Permanent Residency Programme is also a Residency-by-Investment Program, for those with a minimum net-worth of EUR 500,000 and able to make an investment that can be as low as EUR 110,000.   It is usually granted within 6 months of applying, gives the right to dwell indefinitely in Malta and can be converted to citizenship subsequently, following 5 years of residency.

    Grenada’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program starts from USD 150,000.   Grenada possesses one of the finest passport reputations in the industry.   It has an attractive tax regime, there is no residency requirement, and it allows dual citizenship, which is of special interest to many South Africans.   Grenada also has an E-2 visa treaty with the United States, making it a potential stepping stone to residency in the USA.

    If you are interested in exploring any residency-by-investment program, citizenship-by-investment program or would like more information on Harvey Law Group’s immigration services, please visit

    If you would like to discuss your plans with one of our legal professionals, please contact us as at [email protected] .

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