UK, US visa programmes offer opportunities

UK, US visa programmes offer opportunities

Cape Town – In the wake of Brexit, entrepreneurial skills, a financial investment and a commitment to create employment, offer a potential route to South Africans keen to acquire British residency and citizenship.

A programme by the British Home Office, which encourages foreign investment in the UK, aims to match demand for British citizenship with investments in pre-approved businesses in the UK. According to Sable Group MD Gary Kockott, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme would be a viable option for anyone wanting to relocate to the UK. “This bespoke UK citizenship investment programme requires an investment of £200 000 (about R3.53m) in a UK business opportunity, for an applicant and their family to receive residency and possibly citizenship if all the requirements are met,” explained Kockott.

“We match the investor’s skills and experience with a range of business investment opportunities while meeting the UK’s Tier 1 entrepreneur visa-qualifying criteria.” He pointed out there the programme does involve a certain number of requirements. “This visa has a much lower entry cost than other UK investment visas, which require a minimum investment of £2m (about R35m),” said Kockott.

He added that another major benefit of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme is that once an applicant holds a Tier 1 visa, the immediate family are permitted to accompany the holder and could also apply for permanent residency at the end of a five year term.

“Once you have held permanent residence for a year, you may begin the process of naturalisation, after which you may apply for a passport,” he said. United States As for options to obtain permanent residence in the US, LCR Capital, which recently opened a branch in Cape Town, said wealthy South Africans with $500 000 (about R6.75m) to spare can obtain a green card for themselves and their immediate families through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administered EB-5 investor visa programme.

The programme affords high net worth (HNW) individuals the opportunity to become US citizens by investing in US-based businesses to create jobs in that country. Gaining popularity among emerging markets, only 10 000 EB-5s are made available per annum world-wide by the US government. Douglas van der Merwe, LCR Capital’s local representative says, the US immigration system has traditionally not been an ideal fit for South African businessmen and investors who want to relocate to the US.

Popular in Asia, the EB-5 visa programme allows investors who want to relocate their family to the US, or to provide their children education or job opportunities in the US, to obtain a green card. If approved they’ll receive a temporary US green card within 12 – 18 months and a permanent one two to three years later.

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