Interest in U.S. green cards has surged as many are hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to invest $500,000 to obtain a green card. “We are getting so many enquiries, said Bernard Wolfsdorf, Managing Partner at WR Immigration, a top-rated U.S. immigration law firm. “South Africa broke into the top ten countries applying in 2019 as more and more people become familiar with the EB-5 program and tell their friends. It is anticipated the U.S. government will increase the minimum investment amount back to $900,000 by end of 2021,” said Wolfsdorf.
While the EB-5 Regional Center program recently lapsed, many in the industry expect that the U.S. will re-authorize the program again by end of September 2021, providing investors a path to a green card based on “indirect” job creation. Presently, only the “direct” EB-5 is available. Direct EB-5 requires employment of at least 10 U.S. workers. This works for franchises, but over 90% of applicants prefer the regional center indirect job-creation model.
WR partner Joseph Barnett, explained: “My phone has been ringing off the hook over the past couple of weeks as demand for U.S. immigration surges. We are recommending that people prepare their EB-5 “source of funds” reports in order to quickly file at the lower investment amount as soon as the Regional Center program is reauthorized.”
Attorney Barnett indicates that South Africans are also looking for other options – including temporary, “nonimmigrant work visas” – to enter the U.S. sooner. “There are incredibly talented individuals in business, agriculture, sports, and other areas who qualify for an O-1 extraordinary ability visa”. The O-1 visa is for people who can demonstrate extraordinary ability and have been offered work. This visa can be converted into a green card if the person is amongst the top in their field, or by showing unavailability of U.S. workers.
The L-1 company transfer visa for managers and executives is an option for larger companies, but smaller companies have difficulty qualifying. “Not all intracompany transferees will qualify for the L-1 visa. USCIS looks at the company’s organizational chart to ensure the person is truly a manager” says Attorney Barnett.