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Nigerian EB-5 investors & the travel ban: solutions & optimism

Nigeria is an emerging EB-5 market. But the Trump travel ban on certain countries in February of 2020 restricts immigration for Nigeria, Africa’s strongest economy and second-largest trading partner with the U.S. However, an IIUSA report shows how Nigerian investors may be eligible for an exemption or certain waivers to the ban. Also, there is optimism that Nigeria is taking the steps required to remove itself from the ban.

Nigerian EB-5 activity is growing

IIUSA has published a report about the impact of the travel ban on Nigerian investors. Trump’s travel ban in February this year impacted Africa’s most populous country — it shocked many Nigerians given that the two countries enjoy substantial trading. The ban was ostensibly about U.S. national security.In terms of EB-5 activity, Nigeria investors filed significantly more I-526 petitions in FY2019 compared with the year before. Comparing Q1 and Q3 (Q2 data was not available) for the two fiscal years, Nigeria increased its I-526 filings from 35 to 91 (77% increase), for just those two quarters. Clearly, Nigerian EB-5 interest is growing.Thus, it’s disappointing for both Nigerian investors as well as EB-5 stakeholders to shut down that market. But there are silver linings. The first is that exemptions and waivers may apply to Nigerian investors.

Working around the ban

Firstly, for those Nigerian investors with an approved I-526 living in the U.S., they may adjust their status and be issued a Green Card and the ban doesn’t apply. Additionally, there is an exemption to the ban for dual nationals travelling on a passport issued by a non-designated country. Other waivers may also apply, for example, proving the applicant would not be a security threat, or evidence that entry would be in the U.S. interest.These waivers may be of particular value to Nigerian EB-5 investors:

  • The applicant has been previously admitted to the U.S. for a longterm period of work or study
  • The applicant has significant U.S. contacts, or business responsibilities
  • The applicant will reside with a U.S. family member who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident or lawful non-immigrant

Long-term optimism that the ban will be lifted

Beyond these immediate solutions, there is good cause for hope that the immigration ban against Nigeria will be lifted. In February, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, who declared that they were already working on the requirements needed to lift the ban. Onyeama said that Nigeria would soon have a way to address the criteria required for passport security and the disclosure of information related to criminal and terrorist activity.“We look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list,” said the foreign minister. Pompeo shared this optimistic view that Nigeria was moving forward in the direction to be removed from the list.Some Nigerian EB-5 investors may have hit a red light, but their path to a U.S. Green Card by investment may yet still be an open road.Read the IIUSA report “How the Nigerian Travel Ban Affects EB-5 investors”

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