Gar Lippincott and Daniel Ryan of Atlantic American Partners were in South Africa recently looking for high net-worth individuals wanting to invest in the US.
It’s a warm spring day in Johannesburg in September, and Gar Lippincott and Daniel Ryan are in formal corporate attire. It is Lippincott’s first time in the country, and he is jet-lagged.
A little over two months ago, he was booked to fly to South Africa from the United States (US) but was turned back at immigration. A complete irony for a man who helps people move to the US.
“At Atlanta airport, the lady looked at Daniel’s visa and let him through and she looked at my visa and she said ‘I am afraid you can’t get on the plane because you have to have a blank page on your passport’. I said ‘I have three blank pages’ and she said ‘no, it’s supposed to be the one that says visa on it’. She said it’s the rules in South Africa so I had to sadly go back home… now when I was coming, I was told that’s not an issue anymore so I am happy they have made traveling into the country easier,” says Lippincott.
With a brand-new passport, he’s here looking for people who want to invest in the US in exchange for a green card. Lippincott says he has always been interested in South Africa for its growth prospects.
“From what I understand, the things that are causing short-term decline in the economy in South Africa are set up to provide long-term growth and hopefully people will understand this,” he says.
Ryan agrees: “I lived in Malawi for 12 years and South Africa is still considered the shining one throughout the continent. Even with all the problems, everyone still wants to come here because of the opportunities.”
According to an AfrAsia Bank report, South Africa comes second to Mauritius in having the highest number of high-net-worth individuals. These are the kind of people Ryan and Lippincott target through their work at Atlantic American Partners. The company has real estate investors and professional private equity fund managers that manage money for banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. In addition, they help people get US green cards and ultimately US citizenship through the US government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.
“Basically we look for people who want to move to the United States and we help them do so legally by investing and the nice thing is, with our program, they are also able to get a nice return on investment,” he says.
According to Lippincott, for a $500,000 investment that creates 10 jobs for American workers, you could get a green card in about two years and be a US citizen in about six or seven years.
“Twenty seven countries have an investor visa program but with most of them, it’s essentially a fee you pay. For example, you pay $1.5 million in Australia… The fee is a one-time fee and you never get it back. One of the biggest advantages with our program is you actually invest the $500,000 into a fund. We act as a trustee of that money and within five to seven years, they get that money back with a bit of return on investment and you are a permanent citizen in the US.”
Atlantic American Partners invests the money in real estate developments like hotels, apartments and student accommodation.
“What’s nice about the programme is it doesn’t only cover the investor; it covers the spouse and children under 21. Our biggest family was a Hungarian family with seven children so they got nine green cards for $500,000,” says Lippincott.
The company says it has had a positive response in South Africa.
“Two months ago, we were here and we had scheduled six presentations for 100 people and we ended up speaking to 450 people. Most were business people, people worried about the economy, people worried about the political future of South Africa and people concerned about the education future of their children,” says Ryan.
According to Lippincott, despite the news on the clampdown on immigration, the US economy is booming and will perish without immigration. In the era of Trump, that’s heartening news indeed.