These days it's hard to be around a dinner table without somebody mentioning that they're planning to emigrate, or knowing of somebody who is taking the plunge for pastures overseas.
In the current economic climate, South Africans have been looking abroad to New Zealand, Australia, Portugal and even Canada creating a spike in enquiries by as much as 70%, according to immigration experts Sable International.
However, the inability to amass sufficient points has found many families being denied access with their visa applications being disapproved, says some experts.
This has made the USA and pursuing the "American Dream" appear as attractive, according to Induku Consulting Group.
The consultancy group says in the last two weeks alone, inquiries have picked up from two a week to an average of about 20 a day. And their clients stem from all back grounds - not just those many would expect to be making a call to leave the country.
"Black emigrants exceed the tally of white South Africans leaving the country," says Trevor Thomas one of the Directors at Induku Consulting Group (ICG).
While many would think emigration was only a phenomenon amongst white professionals, this has changed in recent years says Thomas.
He says this is according to "data from the Department of Home Affairs’ 2017 white paper on emigration, with Johannes Wessels, Director of The Enterprise Observatory of South Africa quoted on a number of platforms stating this".
“For every one professional immigrating to South Africa, eight are emigrating."
A real and attractive alternative?
And while the obvious US visa application would be an investment Green Card, Thomas says it is "no secret that the EB-5 Visa Programme is fast dismantling", leaving South Africans looking to emigrate with a large degree of uncertainty.
"To qualify for the EB-5 visa or investment green card, a substantial financial commitment of US$500 000 needed to be made in a commercial USA enterprise to create additional employment. The process required extensive documentation but once the visa was approved, one was allowed to live anywhere in the United States, regardless of where the investment was made."
READ: Dual citizenship: UK opportunities knocking for South Africans
Why the EB-3 visa?
ICG in partnership with Visa Solutions, an USA immigration agency headquartered in Houston Texas, is helping families previously excluded by existing immigration agencies by giving them a viable opportunity to obtain a green card through applications for EB-3 visas.
“South Africans need solid options and alternatives in their relocation strategy and that is what we are providing with our “Live the Dream” Employment based Green card,” says Thomas.
The programme is made up of 100 visas as part of the US Government's allocated 10 000 visas each year for employment based sponsorship through EB-3 ‘Other Workers’ for employers that have proven labour shortages in unskilled work positions.
Though fairly new to the South African market demand and applications for EB-3 visa are growing, says Thomas.
"Our programme resonates easier with applicants that have done some emigration research and able to compare our programme to others.
'Perception out there that applying to the USA is just too difficult'
“Unlike other cumbersome immigration applications our clients are finding the process rather seamless. There is a perception out there that applying to the USA is just too difficult. We have results of people obtaining their green card from very unlikely backgrounds so we know it’s possible. We really want to show the average South African that if they follow through with the process the American Dream can be their reality too," says Lennie De Villiers co-director for ICG.
The risks are very low for applicants who have had no previous visa violations in the United States, (overstaying a visa, deportation, or working without authorisation) and have a clean criminal background.
De Villiers says the "American Dream is far from dead for driven, ambitious and industrious South African professionals interested in pursuing the “American Dream” and relocating to the USA in the next 12-14 months".
The consultancy has had 28 applications thus far, leaving 72 available within the “Live the Dream” programme.
"The main reasons visas would be declined apply to all other EB programmes and that would be if the applicants have a criminal record or have broken any of the US visa regulation in the past. Our programme is fairly new, so we have not had any unsuccessful applicants yet."
They are actively looking to close on job openings for those looking to take up work as delivery drivers or serve in the hospitality and culinary industry. "Successful candidates are free to explore other work opportunities or career trajectories in their 2nd year in the USA."
When asked about what possible costs applicants could expect to pay with this alternative visa Thomas says,"For the whole process including legal fees and fees to expedite the process the costs come to half the price of administrative fees to process an EB-5 visa" but would not disclose an actual figure due to currency exchanges.
"The EB-3 ‘Other Workers’ Visa leads directly to permanent residence green card status. A 10 - year green card allows one to live, work, and study in the United States permanently. Children who receive green cards with their parents are able to apply to universities with the same privileges as American citizens. After 5 years green card holders become eligible for citizenship."
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