One of the reasons many South Africans are looking to immigrate to America is so their children have access to some of the best universities in the world. It’s no secret that standards are slipping at local universities; and in an increasingly global job market, a degree from a recognized university in the U.S. will always be more valuable.
The EB-5 immigrant investor visa offers a number of benefits that are specific to international students – so even if parents don’t want to move overseas, this may still be the best visa option for your children. Here are the four major benefits of the EB-5 visa program for students:
1. Quick adjudication time
While other permanent residency options involve frustratingly long waiting times (up to 12 years), investors in the EB-5 program usually get a conditional green card within 18-24 months. This means your children are able to move to the United States to begin studying in under two years; and after university they’re free to remain in America and apply for jobs or start a company. The EB-5 program also offers high approval rates compared to other immigration programs (approximately 90% of applications are approved).
2. Better employment opportunities
Job searching in America can be very difficult for non-green card holders. For example, after graduation, an international student on the F-1 visa (international student visa) has three months to find a job and register themselves with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the graduate isn’t able to find a job within that three-month period, he or she will need to leave the country.
The F-1 visa also restricts the graduate to pursuing employment opportunities in their field of study, which further limits their options.
Furthermore, these graduates would need their prospective employer to apply for and sponsor an H-1B visa on their behalf. Given the competitive job market, very few employers are willing to go through the time, hassle, and expense of doing this. In fact, during the job application process, employers will often filter applications that require visa sponsorship and eliminate these candidates at the initial stage.
With the EB-5 visa, students applying for jobs post-graduation are treated as US residents and do not face any of these difficulties. They can pursue any job in any field, and don’t need to apply for any additional visas or work permits.
3. Higher acceptance rates
There are currently over one million international students at American universities, and the competition for acceptance is tougher than ever. Being a US resident increases school and university acceptance rates considerably, allowing for greater choice for your education.
For example, 9% of American resident applicants are accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but only 0.03% of international applications are accepted. With a green card, via the EB-5 visa program, investors and their children are deemed as US residents and are treated as such when applying to American colleges and universities.
4. Merit-based benefits and lower tuition rates
Green card holders can qualify for a host of benefits that are reserved for US permanent residents, as well as lower in-state tuition rates at many universities. Additionally, EB-5 investors may be eligible for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other financial aid services, which would not otherwise be available to international students.