United States of America

I received more inquiries about relocating to the United States, than any other country.

It has always been difficult and with the recent changes to the US Immigrations Laws, it is almost impossible, unless you are prepared to make a substantial investment through either the EB5 programme or a slightly less substantial investment in securing alternative citizenship and then investing in a business through the E2 treaty investor option.

EB 5 Programme

The EB 5 programme has been around for a long time and is the only option that I feel comfortable recommending for a family that wish to secure green cards and ultimately US citizenship. The basis of the programme is to attract foreign investment and create jobs. Investors are required to invest in a government-approved development. The developer, in turn, is required to create 10 jobs per investor for the investor and their family to qualify for the programme.

The investment threshold was increased to a minimum investment of USD 900,000 in November 2019. Yes, it is a very big number in South African terms, but it comes with what I believe are real benefits:

Green Cards

Green cards and ultimately US citizenship. The investor, their spouse and children under 21 years old (at the time of application) will have complete freedom to live, work, study or retire anywhere in the USA. For many families, the benefit of secure green cards for their children makes it worth the investment.

Investment

Unlike the other programmes, it really is an investment. You, as the investor is repaid in full, at the end of the investment period, rather than you trying to sell your investment on the open market, plus you will receive a return of 1.5% interest while your capital is invested.

Education

Not only will your children have a far greater chance of being accepted at a top US university, but they will also be eligible to pay in-state tuition fees which can translate into a saving of 60% at one of the Ivy League institutions.

NYC Lightstone Towers

If you have explored the option of the EB5 Programme, you will know that many developers are targeting South African investors. I have engaged with many of them to find the right partner to recommend to my clients. USD 900,000 is an enormous amount of money, and it is very important to me, that my client’s investment is in the safest possible hands.

I am comfortable recommending Lightstone for the following reasons:

Track Record

They have been in the EB5 development space for a long time, having already raised USD 520,000,000 in EB5 finance. They already completed 8 EB5 projects. Some residential development and some hotel development. They have a 100% approval rate for their clients. 

Managing Risk

Lightstone has a A+ rating with S&P and A1 with Moody’s. They also have project completion guarantee in place, to ensure that the project will be completed and very robust financial and auditing processes, overseen by high respected independent firms

Great Locations

All their EB5 projects are in the heart of the top tier metropolitan areas backed extensive research and planning.

Their currently EB5 project is the NYC Lightstone Towers. A 785,00m2, 40 story apartment complex in New York, only minutes away from Central Park, the Yankee Stadium and Columbia University. 

The total budget for this project is USD 453 million. 53% will be funded by the primary lender, 39% by Lightstone, with only 8% been made available to EB5 investors. The appraised value of the completed development is USD 608 million. They expect to create more than 400 jobs, which will equate into 40 jobs per investor. An exciting and safe investment for any investor wanting to participate in the EB5 Programme.

E2 Treaty Investor Visa

As an entrepreneurially-minded nation, many of my clients are looking for avenues to start or
expand their own businesses into the USA. Recent changes to the US immigration laws closed
many of the channels, with the E2 Treaty Investor visa being the notable exception.
The E2 treaty investor visa allows investors to invest in a new or existing business in the USA.

The recommended investment is between USD 150,000 - USD 200,000. Investors and their
immediate family would be allowed to remain in the USA for as long as that business continues
to operate. Please note, applicants will not be eligible for US citizenship. One of the great
benefits of the E2 visa is that it offers the investor greater flexibility in terms of how much time
they need to spend in the US and is also generally easier to navigate from an international tax
perspective.

BUT, and it’s a big BUT, as South Africans, we are not eligible to apply based on our South
African passports. We first need to secure citizenship in a country that had a treaty agreement
with the US. I know it sounds awfully difficult, but it is a lot easier than it sounds and the
benefits of having alternative citizenship speak for themselves. I recommend either the
Grenadian or Turkish Citizenship programme. Both options will make you eligible to apply for
an E2 treaty investor visa.

Country Grenada Turkey
Visa renewal E2 visa renewable every 5 years E2 visa renewable every 2 years
Estimated processing time 3 - 4 months 6 months
Qualifying dependents Spouse, children, dependent parents, grandparents, unmarried siblings can be included Spouse and children can be included
Age of children Under 30 years old Under 18 years old
Age of parents Over 55 years old Not included
Visa Free Travel 131 countries, incl. EU, UK & China 110 countries
Investment options Contribution (USD 200,000*) or Real Estate (USD 220,000*) Real Estate ( USD 250,000*) or Bank deposit (USD 500,000*) or Fixed capital investment (USD 500,000*) or Job creation (50 new jobs)
Investment period 5 Years 3 Years

* excluding processing and legal fees

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