The economy in South Africa has been a cause for concern for nationals over the past decade, with the first recession since 2009 hitting South Africa in 2018. While the economy has slowly picked up since the first signs of the recession began this past summer, the realities of two recessions occurring within a ten-year period has greatly unsettled many South Africans. And the country has long had a history of fluctuating economic levels, making nationals increasingly worried about how long the economy will remain stable after it recovers from the latest dip.
To combat this issue, a number of South Africans have begun looking into immigration possibilities, with immigration to the United States becoming the norm for many native-born business owners and entrepreneurs. Although immigration to the United States can be a long and complicated process, a growing number of South Africans have found a solution to the traditionally long processing times and restrictions of many US visas. The visa of choice for these is the EB-5 investor visa. Successful applicants receive not only a visa for themselves, but also for their spouse and children under 21 years of age, with eligibility for citizenship occurring down the road.
For the EB-5 investor visa, each applicant is required to make an investment into a US-based project (often in real estate or manufacturing development) which meets the minimum investment requirements and creates or sustains ten jobs for persons that are legally allowed to work in the United States. The majority of successful applicants rely on entities to guide them through the process of choosing a project and completing their application for the EB-5 visa. This includes Regional Centers, advisors, and immigration attorneys, of which there is no shortage. These entities ensure applicants understand the application requirements, the petition process, and they oversee the submission of the necessary documentation to prevent application delay or denial.
Just in the past three years, data shows an increase of 486% in the amount of South African EB-5 applicants. This may be due to the disparity between the investment minimums across the Western world – with the United States having the lowest investment requirement compared to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
The timeline varies, but some applicants are approved within a year. Once approved, investors become permanent residents and are eligible to move to the US with their dependents and can study, work, and reside anywhere in the United States without restriction. Permanent residency can also allow for educational benefits such as reduced tuition fees and scholarships.
Foreign-born American business owners have been highly effective in creating successful companies due to the opportunities available in the United States that are often unavailable elsewhere. With a one-time EB-5 visa investment, more and more South Africans and their dependents are realizing their dreams of living and working in the USA and owning their own thriving businesses. In light of the roller-coaster that has become the South African economy, South African nationals are finding comfort in making use of the EB-5 investor visa to secure a financial future for themselves and their dependents.