A dramatic increase in the investment threshold for foreigners to access a US Green Card via the EB-5 Programme is prompting a flurry of interest among South Africans.
“Within a month this amount increases from $500 000 to $1.35 million, which, taking into account the exchange rate, is a significant hike for South Africans wishing to acquire USA citizenship via this method,” said Chris Immelman, head of Pam Golding International.
“Already we are seeing families being gifted the funds from relatives to enable them to take up the opportunity before the increase is implemented.”
The EB-5 was created as a means of stimulating the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreigners.
Immelman said it is at present the quickest route to obtaining a Green Card, which is valid for 10 years and provides the opportunity to acquire citizenship.
Flood of enquiries
CEO of residency consultants American Dream, Stuart Ferguson, said that his firm has been inundated by South Africans looking to get in ahead of the changes.
“Due to the looming hefty increase, we’ve seen a surge in demand from all the major cities as well as a number of enquiries from neighbouring countries, including Kenya, where families are also seeking an alternative passport and access in order to educate their children in the US,” he said.
“The EB-5 investment visa programme guarantees that a family will get Green Cards, leading to citizenship after five years.
“The benefits are many – the American economy is booming, it’s easy to start a business there, and Green Card holders have access to all the advantages of education and business opportunities, plus, the investment capital returns to the investor after a period of five years.”
Ferguson said that of the hundreds of applicants received in recent years, most are high net worth individuals or middle management executives with young children, or those planning ahead for their retirement.
Explaining why the EB-5 investment threshold is about to more than double, Ferguson said that this has not been overhauled since the programme has been in existence and the US authorities have elected to link it to their annual Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has increased to an all-time high of 255.16 Index Points in May this year (2019).
The EB-5 programme was launched by the US government in 1990, when the CPI averaged at around 130, he said.