American Dream chief executive Stuart Ferguson says while interest in relocating to the US was somewhat muted in 2020 due to Covid, he expects renewed interest on the back of Joe Biden’s election win.
“Biden has already announced some important key positions within the Department of Homeland Security and a proposed new head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. His win should strengthen the general perception of America and immigration,” he says.
An October visa bulletin released by the US Department of State shows that employment-based preferences are anticipated to be allocated approximately 261 500 visas, an all-time high to use within the 2021 fiscal year. This figure allows for 18 567 visas (7.1% of the total) to be allocated to the EB-5 programme, which was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
Ferguson notes that as there has been a tightening up of immigration options into the US, the popularity of the EB5 option has soared. “However, there were various reforms within the EB5 programme at the back end of last year. One of the most crucial changes was the increase in the investment amount from $500 000 to $900 000 [around R13.7 million at the current exchange rate].
“That amount is simply your investment to get your green card,” he explains.
Once you have your green card, you identify the city and state, and potential employment or business opportunities you want to pursue.
How it works
An EB5 visa allows a family – including children aged 21 and younger – permanent residence anywhere in the United States and you do not require sponsorship.
There are two ways for you to invest. Ferguson says you could make a direct investment where you identify an entity that will directly create, for example, 10 jobs for Americans or you invest indirectly into an investment that creates jobs.
“In the first scenario, you would need to manage that business and make sure it’s a success. We focus on the indirect route where you would make an investment that secures a green card for you and your family, this then allows you the flexibility to pursue other employment opportunities or your own business interests,” he says.
An example of a previous development project for investment is a mixed-use development in Hollywood, Florida, with a total capex of $240 million. The project included 400 condo units that were leased, a retail ground floor area, and a small hotel component. American Dream recently raised EB5 funding for a Block40 project, which is also a mixed-used development with a capex of $140 million.
“We have a number of exciting new developments that we are bringing to market in 2021,” Ferguson says.
He notes that there has always been a lot of interest from South Africans looking at the option of an alternate residency and the consultancy is seeing renewed interest from those South Africans looking to specifically emigrate to the US as soon as possible.
South African Casper and Ansie Cronje relocated to Dakota in the US last year, just 18 months after submitting their EB-5 visa application.
“We had permanent residence with working rights [from] the moment we arrived in the USA and this not only provided us with the opportunity start earning US dollars immediately, but we also don’t have any worries about having to apply for further visas to stay here,” say the Cronjes.
They say their next step will be citizenship in five years’ time.
Brought to you by American Dream.