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20 Kenyans sign up for Sh51m US investor visa

American Embassy Consular Section
An American Embassy Consular Section official explains a visa application process during a past function in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

More than 20 high-net worth Kenyans have signed up for a US investor visa programme seven months after an American private equity firm started marketing it in the country.

The interested locals are required to fork out Sh51.5 million ($500,000) to qualify for the visa, commonly known as EB-5 (employment based-fifth preference visa).

Atlantic American Partners, the PE firm that has been scouting for individuals to take up the visa plan, says it has enrolled three individuals — one paid on behalf of his child — who have already paid up the money and are now waiting for a conditional green card to move to the US.

Daniel Ryan, managing director of Atlantic American, said yesterday that 20 others are in the process of filling in paperwork and getting vetted for suitability of the programme.

“By the end of the year we hope to have at least 25 investors signed up. It takes about six months for people to get ready to invest, given that most of them do not have the Sh51 million instantly at hand,” Mr Ryan told the Business Daily.

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He added that those signing up in the last six months were in the lot that expressed interest during his last visit in the country in November 2018.

The EB-5 visa offers an easier route for those with millions to spare, with fewer requirements and the promise of permanent residence or citizenship in five years.

Successful applicants are given back the Sh51 million once they achieve permanent resident status — normally after five years — with citizenship following about a year later.

Atlantic American facilitates the application process and act as a trustee and investor of the funds, with qualifying Kenyans paying Sh2 million in legal fees and Sh4.6 million ($45,000) in investment management fees on top of the Sh51 million investment amount.

The firm invests the money in real estate in areas where there is above average unemployment in the US, giving the investor a return along with their initial Sh51 million upon gaining permanent residence.

Facilitators are required to do background checks on applicants to ensure they have no criminal records or that they are not laundering money, with legal experts and Interpol brought in to do a source-of-funds check.

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