South Africans rush to apply for US green cards as price increases loom

The US government has announced that an increase in the investment threshold for foreigners to access a green card via the Immigrant Investor EB-5 Programme will come into effect from 21 November 2019.

The amount required for this visa will increase from $500,000 to $900,000.

The EB-5 programme provides the opportunity to acquire US citizenship via investment in a commercial property venture – with the key advantage that the investment capital returns to the investor after a period of five years.

“Fortunately, while still significant, the increase from $500,000 to $900,000 is not as high as was anticipated,” said Chris Immelman, head of Pam Golding International.

“However, it does mean that anyone to take advantage of the current, lower threshold of $500,000, will need to file their application and transfer this amount before the above date.

“So, if you are serious about applying for a green card through the EB-5 Programme and want to benefit from the lower investment of $500,000, we strongly advise that you aim to submit your application by 1 November just to be on the safe side.”

According to Immelman, the EB-5 Programme is the fastest way to obtain a green card for your immediate family, including children under the age of 21. This green card is valid for 10 years.

“This investment is kept in a secure US escrow account until your application is approved by the government, then it is transferred to the project. Should your application for a green card be refused, your investment is returned to you immediately. It usually takes 18-24 months from the time of your investment to obtain your US green card, with citizenship after five years,” he said.

Immelman says It is important that applicants deal with a reputable developer who will ensure that the commercial property development is properly built and that the investor can be sure that the full amount – which is currently $500,000 – will be returned upon completion.

Flood of enquiries

In July, 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.

Read: The country’s biggest business lobby has published a warning letter for South Africa – here’s what it said

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South Africans rush to apply for US green cards as price increases loom