The U.S. Federal program that offers a fast track to permanent residency status, is still thriving under the Trump Administration and now could be the best time for East Africans to take advantage.
The EB-5 program was introduced in 1990 by the United States Congress to stimulate the U.S. economy and create jobs by allowing foreign entrepreneurs an opportunity to permanently live, work and invest in the United States.
The program provides a quick path to obtaining a green card for investors and their immediate family members upon investing $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 U.S. jobs. The investment is backed by the U.S. government, and 100% of the investment amount is guaranteed to be returned to the investor after five years.
Under the new Trump Administration, the program has seen an increase in applications from wealthy investors in Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, U.A.E. and China. A profile of previous EB-5 investors, reveals that their primary motivation is not the investment return, but rather to establish a physical presence in the U.S., to build a long-term economic haven for their wealth, and to enroll their children in U.S. colleges and enhance their job opportunities post graduation.
With the long-standing migratory relationship between East Africa and the United States, and as evidenced with the Obama presidency, it is an understatement to say that Kenyans, and by-and-large East-Africans, are well integrated into the fabric of American society.
According to the 2010 U.S. census, there are nearly 100,000 Kenyan-born persons living in the USA and when you count their American-born off-spring, the number of Kenyans in the United States increases exponentially.
“The strength of the Kenyan Diaspora community in the USA and the business ties between the two countries, was a key decision in deciding to represent the EB-5 program in East Africa”, said Danielle Callaway of Africa Access Limited, a Nairobi-based consulting company that aims to strengthen the investment ties between the U.S. and East Africa.
While Africa Access primarily works with U.S. investors setting up in East Africa, Ms. Callaway explained that, “with the growing wealth in East Africa and the need to have a more global reach in business, the EB-5 program in the U.S. presents a great opportunity for knowledge-sharing and international joint ventures.”
In addition to the U.S. program, Canada, which is now being referred to as “the new U.S.A.” for the Kenyan Diaspora, has recently relaunched its Federal Skilled Worker program, which encourages foreign nationals to apply to live and work in Canada. This program targets professionals in preferred sectors and favours individuals from English-speaking countries who have a Master’s Degree or higher.
Ms. Callaway and her team assist in matching African investors/skilled workers with projects and jobs that pique their investment and business interests, in sectors such as real estate, hospitality, infrastructure, finance and agribusiness. In addition, they conduct the initial legal due diligence on behalf of the program, to increase the acceptance rates of their applicants.
The Africa Access team can be contacted at [email protected].