US Visa Program
US Visa Program

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program provides foreign nationals with the opportunity to obtain permanent residency in the United States of America by investing in its economy and creating jobs. As an investor, this federal program affords one of the fastest ways for you and your family to obtain green cards and become citizens of the USA. The best part is that there are no language skills nor minimum education requirements. As long as you are able to raise the capital needed ($500k – $1M) to fund real estate and job creation projects in the USA through legal means, you’re eligible to apply.



Established back in 1990, this program has issued thousands of visas to foreign nationals around the world. Historically, most of its recipients have been Asian nationals, which explains why many investors and real estate developers raising EB-5 capital were going to China, India and other Asian countries. Things are about to change.  However, as many of these countries are now experiencing retrogression. This basically means that there’s a backlog of visa processing and issuance for applicants and their families from those countries. Needless to say, this results in substantial delays.


    1. The Visa Backlog Problem


After years of speculation and wrangling, President Trump’s administration has agreed to revamp the  EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program. In addition to the retrogression of certain countries, it is expected that the amount of minimum capital required will be increased from $500,000 to $900,000 for projects in needy areas, while the minimum investment capital for non-needy areas may also rise from $1 million to $1.8 million. This expected overhaul is also expected to cover the current standards for what is considered a needy area (blighted or high-unemployment neighborhood) as a way of preventing developers from “gerrymandering” their own boundaries to attract foreign investments.


But perhaps the more pertinent change from an applicant’s perspective is the current retrogression status of some countries that were previously top beneficiaries of the program. China has been handed a 16-year retrogression, which means any Chinese national currently in line for an EB-5 visa will be waiting for a while. This backlog can have a ripple effect across the board; Chinese investors now have to wait years for the Visa Bulletin light to turn green and they may also have to wait longer to see a return on their investments. Many of them are pulling back and looking into other immigration options. This is because regulations stipulate that investors have to tack on additional time, equal to how long they waited for their priority date to become active after receiving initial approval.


It also affects their children since the long delay means that kids “age out” before the visa is awarded. This means they would no longer qualify as derivatives on their parent’s application and will instead be treated as separate individuals—needing their own investment capital and other application requirements. In fact, in 2018, hundreds of Chinese EB-5 investors decided to take legal action against the U.S. Government over their 15 Year wait times.


Regional centers and real estate developers also suffer from these retrogressions.   For one, the delays make it harder to market EB-5 projects to other investors around the globe. This is especially so when you compare to other foreign investment programs around the world that have faster processing times. Second, by increasing the minimum investment capital required, investors and developers are now forced to look for other funding sources outside of retrogressed countries.


    1. Raising EB-5 Capital in Africa


Being heavily invested in the EB-5 visa program, countries that are facing retrogression have the structures and processes in place to handle new applications. However, they’re facing longer wait times. Therefore, the gateway may be opening to accommodate other foreign nationals who have the cash to invest. One region growing in popularity for this type of capital sourcing is Africa. This giant continent has an opportunity to become a major player in this space as evidenced by the rising number of South African investors for the program. It is alluring enough and offers interested investors an avenue to expand their investments and obtain one of the most sought after citizenship in the world.


Real estate developers in the US have also noticed the appeal and are making efforts to attract African investors. For many countries in Africa, the program’s main attraction is not in the investment returns, but the green card. They’re also more predisposed to choose the USA since other countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have been less welcoming to immigrants in recent times. Stricter immigration policies in Australia and Brexit uncertainties in the UK means that many Africans have decided to look towards America.


    1. Get Started with Lexington International Agency


One immigration agency leading the charge to connect EB-5 project developers with qualified African investors is Lexington International Agency. As an applicant, the company acts as a conduit between you and a suitable regional center in the US that can provide the best chance of processing your application. They specialize in conducting proper research and analyses to ensure that your invested capital is optimized for quick returns.

If you want to know more about the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, click here.



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