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Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP partner Joseph Barnett will be in SA from August 21 to 28 2019 to meet prospective EB-5 investors. Picture: SUPPLIED/WOLFSDORF/SHUTTERSTOCK
Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP partner Joseph Barnett will be in SA from August 21 to 28 2019 to meet prospective EB-5 investors. Picture: SUPPLIED/WOLFSDORF/SHUTTERSTOCK

More South Africans are taking advantage of the EB-5 (employment-based, fifth-preference) immigration investor programme, which provides an investor’s entire family with US green cards based on the creation of jobs for US workers. 

With no age requirement or need for a US sponsor, the EB-5 visa has quickly become a popular option for those seeking an easier life in the US, with more educational and employment opportunities for a family’s future.  

However, new regulations that will substantially increase the minimum EB-5 investment amount have been published in the Federal Register, with an effective date of November 21 2019.  The proposed changes will price out many South Africans seeking to obtain permanent residency within the US through the EB-5 visa programme.  

As such, many South Africans are rushing to get their immigration applications filed before the effective date to demonstrate their eligibility based on the regulatory requirements in place at the time of filing of the petition.

The minimum investment amount is set at $500,000 for investments in targeted employment areas (TEAs), and from $1m for non-TEA investments. The new regulation will increase the minimum investment amount to $900,000 in a TEA and to $1.8m for non-TEAs. Additionally, this amount will automatically increase every five years to account for inflation.  

Another major change is that the authority to designate a geographic location as a TEA has been moved from state governments to the federal government – a change that is likely to lead to significant delays and additional costs to EB-5 projects and investors.  

As such, the time to invest at the current investment amount of $500,000 has come to an end. To be eligible, an EB-5 investor must demonstrate the lawful nature of the EB-5 investment capital as well as the transfer of funds out of the country in compliance with the South African Revenue Service's requirements. Liquidating assets can take time, and there is no time to lose now.     

During his last trip to SA in May and June, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP partner Joseph Barnett noted the daily discussion with clients regarding currency exchanges.

EB-5 eligibility requires significant capital. The volatility in ZAR currency exchange rates can affect an EB-5 investor’s ability and opportunity to transfer foreign exchange and international remittances out of SA. 

A prudent EB-5 investor should work through a professional money transfer service, and engage in a pre-immigration tax strategy with experienced international financial advisors prior to filing the EB-5 immigration application.     

Barnett will be in SA from August 21 to 28 2019 to meet prospective EB-5 investors.

To schedule a no-cost EB-5 consultation, please register here 

This article was paid for by Wolfsdorf.