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U.S. immigration options for South Africans



You don’t need to gamble with the Green Card Lottery if you’re hoping to make your American dream a reality.

Immigrating to the United States is a complicated process, but gaining lawful entry into the United States through business, employment, family or investment is common.

Award-winning attorney Karen-Lee Pollak will be in South Africa providing private immigration consultations specifically tailored to South Africans from 13-20 April in Johannesburg and 21-24 April in Cape Town.

Karen-Lee grew up in South Africa and knows first-hand from both a legal and personal perspective the intricacies of uprooting your family to live and work in the United States.

Some of the more common visas issued to South African’s include the L-1A and H-1B visas, obtaining a Green Card through investment, family sponsorship and by gaining employment in the U.S.


L-1 Visa: Business (intracompany work visa)


An L-1 visa is granted to people who have worked outside of the U.S. as a manager, executive, or in a position involving specialised knowledge, and are now seeking to come to the U.S. to work in a related U.S. company in the same capacity or to open a branch of their South African business in the United States.

Many international companies use an L visa to transfer their executives, managers, or workers who are in a position involving specialised knowledge, to the U.S.

A spouse and minor children of an L-1 beneficiary may be granted L-2 visa status, and an L-2 visa beneficiary may become a student in the U.S. and may also work in the United States.

H-1B visa: Employment (speciality occupation)


The H-1B visa is for foreign workers who will hold speciality occupations, one which “requires the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific speciality as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

However, specialised knowledge may be acceptable instead of a degree. Generally, 12 years of work experience in a speciality field may be evaluated to be equivalent to a degree

There are three requirements:
First, the employee must have a job offer from a U.S. entity
Second, the employer must demonstrate a need for someone in a speciality
Third, the foreign national must have the required degree, or its equivalent, in a subject closely related to the position.


EB-5 visa: Investment (Investment Green Card)


An Investment Green Card is based on making a substantial financial commitment to creating additional employment in the U.S. Currently, the amount of the investment is $500,000.00 if you establish a business located in a rural area or an area of high unemployment.

Alternatively, you can invest in a Regional Center where typically you would loan your funds for nominal interest and your funds would be returned after 5 years under a loan model.

Return on your investment may be longer under an equity model.

The amount of the investment is likely to be increased later this year to a minimum to $1.35m if investing in your own business and $850,000.00 if investing in a Regional Center.

The EB5 Visa is based on a qualifying US investment and does not require you to manage the day-to-day affairs of a business.

You may invest in an existing or a new business, more than one person may invest, and you may be a minority owner.

In addition, the investment must create directly or indirectly or preserve 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.


Where to get expert advice


To schedule a consultation with Karen-Lee please email karenlp@pollakimmigration.com.

Karen-Lee Pollak is the managing attorney at Pollak PLLC, an immigration law firm specialising in business and family based immigration.

She has been selected as a Chambers and Partners Global Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers (USA), D Magazine Best Lawyers in Texas, and Texas Rising Star by Texas Monthly.

She has also been featured as one of Newsweek’s Leaders in Immigration Law Showcase, and named by Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Award as ‘Immigration Law Firm of the Year in Texas’.

Pollak provides full-service legal immigration counsel to large corporations, small businesses and individuals, and her immigration docket routinely includes representing businesses, investors and families in obtaining immigrant and non-immigrant visas to live and work in the United States.

As an immigrant herself and as the past immigration practice chair of the Dallas office of one of the world’s largest law firms, Pollak understands what a critical legal and emotional decision it is to move employees or family to the United States in a timely and efficient manner.

For more information, visit the Pollak website.
Khabza Mkhize

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