Preference was given in the past to immigrants from those countries from which South Africa's present white population is derived. Between 1963 and 1984, the number of immigrants averaged about 37,000 annually, and the number of emigrants about 12,000. Between 1980 and 1984, some 72,528 Zimbabwe residents emigrated to South Africa. After 1984, immigration fell, and, perhaps as a consequence, the white population actually declined between 1980 and 1991. Of the 63,495 immigrants between 1986 and 1991, 16,815 came from other African countries, 16,056 from the UK, 16,512 from other European countries, and 14,112 from other parts of the world. Emigration came to 46,541 during these years.
In 1986, it was estimated that between 1.5 million and 2 million black Africans migrate temporarily to South Africa each year to fulfill work contracts, although only about 500,000 foreign male Africans are living and working in the country at any given time. South Africa was providing informal sanctuary to perhaps 200,000 refugees from Mozambique in 1992, most of whom repatriated by 1996.
Since 1999, one of South Africa's main challenges has been the increasing cross-border migration. In addition to the large number of undocumented migrants that enter the country, South Africa receives some 1,000 new asylum applications every month. As of 1999, the country was hosting some 55,000 asylum-seekers, only 8,500 of whom had been recognized as refugees. Also in 1999, xenophobia was on the rise, with 30 refugees and asylum-seekers having been killed in attacks on foreigners since 1995. In 2000, the net migration rate was -0.01 migrants per 1,000 population. The number of migrants living in South Africa that year was 1,303,000, including refugees. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.