South Africa is set to lose a visa route to the US in June – what you should know

One of the attractive options for South Africans to get into the USA – the USA EB-5 Visa Programme – is set to expire on 30 June.

While there is growing support to reauthorize the programme, there are no guarantees at this stage, said Nadia Read Thaele, director of LIO Global, a specialist firm in Residence and Citizenship by investment programs.

Thaele said that the required investment was raised considerably last year, and it is possible that the US may look to tighten up despite the more immigration-friendly Biden administration.

She added that the route is particularly popular for wealthy South Africans and that demand for the EB-5 programme has more than doubled over the last three years.

“The programme was established to attract capital from foreign individuals who meet specific investment and job creation requirements. It requires an investment of $900,000 (R14.4 million) and there are essentially two options for South African investors, she said.

“The first is to invest $1 million (about R15 million) in a new commercial enterprise, or $900,000 in a targeted employment area (TEA) which employs 10 US workers directly. The applicant must actively manage the policy formation and day-to-day activities of the enterprise.

“The second, and more popular route, also requires $900,000 but in an at-risk approved US job-creating centre which creates employment for at least 10 US workers. ”

Thaele said that there is no requirement to be involved at all, which is why about 90% of all applicants choose this option.

“The program offers a relatively easy route to citizenship. After five years from receiving a conditional Green Card, the main applicant and his/her family become eligible to apply for citizenship.

“Candidates can retain their South Africa citizenship as the US permits dual citizenship. She says further there is no language, age, education, managerial or skill requirements.”

Where a South African passport is quite restricted, a US passport is literally a passport to the world, offering visa-free travel to over 180 countries including the Eurozone, UK, Australia and more.

“Many families also opt for the EB-5 program as a means to offer their children access to education in the USA as your children can attend the US schools and universities,” she said.

Read: New UK immigration option for South Africans

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South Africa is set to lose a visa route to the US in June – what you should know