Africa Immigration Series (AIS) is a series of articles to be published on our blog frequently. Each article will explore the Africa’s expat mobility landscape and a brief overview of the current economic situation and investment opportunities.

Our next country article focuses on Botswana:


Capital: Gaborone

Currency: Pula (BWP)

Official language: English (official), Setswana

Government: Republic, parliamentary democracy.

President: Mokgweetsi Masisi

GDP: 17,41 billion USD (2017)


Botswana is a Southern African country bordered on the southeast and south by South Africa, on the west and northwest by Namibia, on the north by Zambia, and on the northeast and east by Zimbabwe. The country is larger than France and about same size as the Texas state in USA.

Since independence from the UK in 1966, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world and maintained one of the world’s highest economic growth rates until the global recession. Although still categorized a third world country, Botswana is considered a well-managed country, politically stable where a big part of the population enjoys a standard quality of living.

Rich in natural resources, Botswana profits mainly from the abundant diamond mining sector. Botswana houses two of the worlds biggest diamond mine, which Jwaneng is considered to be the world’s richest diamond mine in terms of value, and is owned by Debswana, a partnership between the De Beers and the Government of Botswana. The mine has been in production since 1982. It accounts for up to 70% revenue of Debswana, which operates four diamond mines in Botswana. The mining sector, as a consequence, is one of the biggest employers in the country.

Despite Botswana’s impressive economic growth, the country faces high levels of poverty and inequality, especially in rural areas and the southern part of the country. The agricultural sector, despite not a great contributor to the GDP, it remains an important feature of the economy, given that more than half of the population lives in rural areas and is dependent on subsistence crop and livestock farming.

According to The World Bank, Botswana’s high levels of inequality and unemployment is holding the country back. Although the current economic model has achieved milestones towards economic development, it has also created a dependence on the government, as the state is the main investor and employer in most sectors in the country. To change the scene, it’s believed that the government most focus its efforts in investing in technology and innovation in the private sector to facilitate job creation.


Foreign nationals wishing to live and reside in Botswana must apply for work permits and residency according to the Botswana immigration Act and Regulations of 2011. Permits are issued the Immigrants Selection Board.

As per the Botswana Immigration laws, when a foreign national is issued a work permit, the same does not grant the right for residency, therefore, an application for residency permit must submitted. The process is simple and usually both applications are submitted simultaneously. Unlike other countries with a Critical Skill List, Botswana does not have special permits for individuals with scarce skills. As immigration in the country is based on a points system, individuals with critical skills score higher points in the visa evaluation process.

For individuals wishing to invest in the country either in a new or existing business, the points system is also applicable. The points evaluation is based on industry, investment amount, skills and other specific factors.

For retired persons, there is no practical law that facilitate retired individuals to obtain residency permits.


Business Visa: Applicable for foreign nationals visiting Botswana for business meetings, business prospecting and conferences. Does not allow work. Business visas are issued for 90 days per year and issued on arrival for most nationalities (please check prior to traveling. South African passport holders are visa exempt.

Visa restricted countries must apply for business visa at a Botswana mission at country of residence prior to travel (e.g. China)

Short term work visa: Applicable to individuals who wishes to work in Botswana for a short period. This visa is valid for 3 months and renewable to a maximum of 6 months per year. Botswana immigration system is very strict, even for short term work visas it is important to motivate strongly why no local was fit to perform the work. Relevant Ministry may get involved (e.g. Mines. Place of submission: Relevant authorities in Gaborone

Long term work permit: Must be applied for by individuals who wishes to work in Botswana for more than six months. Long term work permits are valid for 24 months – up to an absolute maximum of 10 years. The position which the foreign national is applying at the employing company is Botswana has to be advertised in in a local newspaper and should circulate for 14 days. Even if the applicant is being seconded to Botswana, immigration works with a sophisticated points system, which several factors are taken into consideration when adjudicating the application (language, experience, profession on list, etc.). 2 applications must be submitted, one for work permit and one for residence permit. Place of submission: Relevant authorities in Gaborone

Investor/Business permit: Applicable to individuals who wish to establish a new company or invest in an existing company in Botswana. The permit can be issued for 5 – 10 years. For this permit, the points based system is also applicable, the investor will have to score at least 60% out of 150%. There are 3 Tier’s involved under investor’s permits which are: Tier 1 – Investor sponsored; Tier 2 – Production (Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, water & Electricity, Construction); Tier 3 – Service Sector ( Tourism, Trade, Transport, Communication, Finance & Business service, Social and personal services, Information technology).

Spouses and dependants permit: For spousal and dependant child under 18 years old of a holder of a residency permit in Botswana, a residency permit is applicable. The holder of the residency permit must undertake to maintain the applicant financially. Immigrants Selection Board does not employ the Points Based System.

Residence Permit: In Botswana anyone staying in the country for longer than 3 months is required to obtain a separate Residence Permit. Within the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, the Department of Labour issues work authorization & the Department of Home Affairs is responsible for the issuance of residence permits.

Permanent Residency: Foreign nationals who have resided lawfully in Botswana for at least 5 years, may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. This permit is issued by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs. The individual applying for this permit must be able to prove that: is of good character; has made significant contributions of benefit to Botswana; is of good standing in society; has sufficient means to support him or herself.

See here our INTRODUCING NAMIBIA article.

Have a look here at our very first AIS article:

See here our introducing Kenya country article.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on the Africa Immigration Series (AIS).

by Fernanda Braz