EB-5 Nigeria: The Ultimate Guide to the EB-5 Visa Program for Nigerians 2020

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Looking to obtain residency or citizenship in the USA from Nigeria in 2020? The EB-5 Visa Program gives Nigerian nationals the ability to obtain an investment green card in the USA, but the program went through some key changes in 2020. Find out everything you need to know about the changes to the American Dream visa for Nigerians, or contact us now for a free consultation.

The EB-5 program at at glance

 

The EB-5 program is primarily intended to facilitate job creation in the USA. The two primary investment pathways available to Nigerian investors are:

  • A direct EB-5 investment of no less than $1.8 million, leading to the creation (or preservation) of at least 10 jobs for American citizens. This type of investment requires the investor to be present in the USA and very actively involved in the management of the business investment.

  • An indirect investment of no less than $900,000 through an approved Regional Center, typically into a hotel or commercial property development, leading to indirect job creation. This type of EB-5 investment can be considered to be a passive investment, as the immigrant investor is not expected to be involved in the management of the project being invested in.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in Nigeria

According to a US Visa Office report, 97 Nigerian nationals were granted an EB-5 visa during 2018. Of this 97, 92 investors opted to make a $500,000 property based investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). The investment requirement was raised from $500,000 to $900,000 to account for inflation on 21 November 2019.

Given the ongoing challenges even affluent Nigerians, Kenyans and Ghanaian nationals face on a daily basis, demand for the program is growing steadily – and with good reason…

EB-5 benefits for Nigerian and African nationals

 

1. ENJOY LEGAL US RESIDENCY: As an EB-5 green card holder, you will gain the ability to live, work and travel in the USA without restrictions, and your spouse will automatically be eligible for a green card as well. 

2. QUALITY OF LIFE: Thanks to the EB-5 residency program, Nigerian nationals can also own the American Dream and live in a safe, advanced first world nation with an abundance of opportunities.

 3. ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION: For most Nigerian families, an EB-5 investment serves as a Plan B – a path to a better life for their children. An EB-5 residency makes it far easier getting into a top-tier US university, without any sponsorship visa requirement. The cost of tuition for EB-5 visa holders can also be significantly lower than for foreign students.

As a US resident, your child will also have more tuition funding opportunities to apply for than as a non-US resident.

4. VALUE FOR MONEY: While the recently increased minimum EB-5 investment requirement may seem quite expensive, it is worthwhile considering the fact that for a single investment of $900,000, both the primary investor, their spouse and their unmarried children under the age of 21 years can obtain a US green card. Compared with the UK’s Tier 1 Visa or the Canadian Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, the EB-5 is a compelling value-for-money option.

5. NO APPLICATION BACK-LOG OR REGRESSION: Unlike for Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese applicants, Nigerian applications are not subject to any back-logs or application retrogression, making the EB-5 program highly attractive for families operating on shorter timelines for investment migration.

EB-5 firms operating in Nigeria and Africa in 2020

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A number of local and international companies are promoting the EB5 program to high net worth Nigerians, including Houston EB-5, EB-5 Capital, Atlantic American Nigeria, CMB, Brookes and Partners Nigeria, Lightstone as well as Beyond Residency and Citizenship.

 

EB-5 Visa Program Modernization: What’s Changed In 2020?

 

A new rule published by the US Department of Homeland Security is serving as the basis for the modernization of the Program. In accordance with this rule, a number of key changes took effect on 21 November 2019.

Here are 5 of the most prominent changes:

  1. PRICE INCREASE: From an investor perspective, the significantly increased minimum investment requirement is arguably one of the key changes to the program. The minimum Regional Center investment requirement has been increased to $900,000, adjusted for inflation. The direct EB-5 investment requirement has been adjusted to 1.8 million. Future adjustments will occur every 5 years, and will be tied to the US Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U, for short. The clock has therefore already started ticking until the EB-5 Capital investment requirement will be increased again.

  1. PRIORITY DATE RETENTION: In the event that an immigrant investor’s EB-5 petition is approved, but fraud or a misappropriation occurs within the NCE, Regional Center or individual EB-5 development project, the investor will henceforth retain their priority processing date. If the investor were to be involved in said fraud or misappropriation, their priority date will not be retained. There are, however, a substantial body of nuances pertaining to priority date retention, and it is highly advisable to seek specialized legal advice on this topic.

  1. E2 VISAS NOW RELATIVELY MORE AFFORDABLE: Many foreign investors have, to date, opted to obtain citizenship by investment in countries with an E2 commercial and navigational treaty with the USA. This enables them to obtain a 5-year, extendable E2 Visa, either as a stop gap measure, or as an alternative to an EB-5 Visa. While this would typically require the same total investment as an EB-5 Visa – typically around $500,000 – the E2 route via Grenada Citizenship is now significantly more affordable than the EB-5 program, with minimum investments starting from $900,000. 

  1. TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA DEFINITIONS REFINED: The determinations and definitions used to determine TEAs have historically been a key weakness of the EB-5 program, with instances of gerrymandering and opportunistic manipulation of electoral constituencies’ boundaries leading to controversy. As of 21 November 2019, therefore the Department of Homeland Security removed states’ ability to designate certain political and geographic sub-classifications as high-unemployment areas.

  2. As of 21 November 2019, the authority to designate TEAs has taken away from the individual States; the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now be directly in charge of verifying  that prospective Eb-5 projects are located in a qualified TEA.

Doing so will ensure that TEA designations are conducted in a fairer and more consistent manner, in line with Congress’ intent to ensure that direct EB-5 investment capital reaches the areas where the need for job creation is greatest.

EB5 Capital Investments: What are the risks?

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There have been a number of well publicised instances of EB5 fraud over the years, and it is vital to do adequate due diligence before investing in an EB5 Regional Center project or development.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission therefore issued extensive guidance on the potential risks investors need to be aware of. In terms of EB5 due diligence, the SEC and USCIS recommend the following steps:

  • Be sure to confirm that the Regional Center you’re considering has in fact been designated by USCIS.

  • Always obtain copies of project documents provided to USCIS

  • Be sure to request all investment related information in writing

  • Determine whether promoters are being paid

  • Seek independent verification from suitable qualified third parties

  • Examine the structural risks associated with the investment

  • Carefully consider the EB5 developer’s incentives

  • Be on the Lookout for signs of potential fraud.

NB: If you have ever had your application for a Schengen or USA visa rejected, this can negatively affect your application for the EB5 or similar Golden Visa Programs, and it is highly advisable to address any such obstacles before applying for the EB5 Program.

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