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Unprecedented interest in the Nigerian market for US EB-5 visas

The EB-5 visa program has been reported to be growing in interest with Nigerian nationals over the past number of years. In the Report of the Visa Office, it was stated that nearly 100 Nigerians were provided with EB-5 visas in 2018. That was the most EB-5 visas issued for a country in Africa in the fiscal year of 2018. Nearly all of the EB-5 investors from Nigeria decided to enter into the Regional Center programs which target jobs in areas that need employment opportunities.

The EB-5 Investment Visa Program

Nearly 30 years ago, the United States Congress created the EB-5 visa program to help the economy by the stimulation of jobs and investment capital. The project took the minimum investment amount of $500,000 in exchange for a visa and green cards for qualified foreign nationals and their family, which is used in job creation for US workers. The project used the investment to help create jobs for American workers in rural areas and those which are known to have high unemployment rates.

The EB-5 program offers two ways in which investors can enter the program. One way is through the Direct Investment Program and the other is investments made through a Regional Center. For example, most of the Nigerian investors chose the Regional Center option. The investment placed in the EB-5 program must be kept in an “at risk” project to qualify. It is also a requirement for the investment to be able to create ten full time positions for workers in the United States. It also may be an important factor that the investor should be an accredited investor. However, it is advised for those seeking to enter the program to seek legal counsel to decide which program is more suitable.

Qualifications of Accredited Investors

One qualification of an investor is that they have a net worth of $1 million by the time they are ready to make the investment. The total amount can also apply for spouses who have a joined net worth of $1 million. The primary residence of the individual investor cannot count as the qualifying net worth amount.

Another qualification option is that an investor shows they have had an annual income of $200,000. If the investor’s spouse included in the program, their joint income in the previous years must show $300,000. Not only must the investors show the amount over the course of previous years, but also prove they will make the same amount in the next year alone or jointly with their spouse.

How Hot is the Nigerian Market?
With the increasing interest coming from Nigeria, top EB-5 Regional Center representatives who travel to meet potential foreigners who may immigrate to the US, have decided to take another look at the country. One advantage is that there is no current waiting list for nationals from Nigeria looking to enter into the EB-5 program. Although the country made the top of the African countries in FY2018, there is still no backlog. The situation means that for those individuals applying from Nigeria, will not have to wait as long as people from other countries such as China, India or Vietnam. Nigerians who are qualified to enter into the EB-5 program may receive their US visa as soon as they are available.

Why Nigerians are Interested

There may be many reasons that would make Nigerians want to live and work in the United States. For example, they may be attracted to the stability of the US government, a global opportunity, religious freedoms or education. Whatever the interest, a number of more affluent Nigerians are currently seeking ways to qualify for the program.

A number of foreign nationals looking to the EB-5 visa program as a means to provide a better education for their children at top universities. Parents are able to provide the investment amount for the EB-5 program as a gift, making them the principal investor. This would mean that their children could live in the United States even after their studies are completed. Once their children have been granted conditional permanent residency, they can wait for 5 years and apply for citizenship in the US.
However, it is important to know that the amount of the minimum investment for the EB-5 visa is set to increase from $500,000 to $900,000 by November 21st of 2019. This amount refers to the investment made towards Regional Centers and their targeted employment area programs.

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