Fifth preference employment-based US visa program, or EB-5 for short, has always been popular with non-US residents. It is widely regarded as one of the quickest legal ways for financially independent persons to establish themselves in the States through one-time investment.
The Congress launched the program about 28 years ago. As per rules of the program, investors who inject from US$500,000 to US$1,000,000 in a government-approved project and successfully undergo due diligence are eligible to obtain legal permanent residence status together with their family members.
The investors can choose between two options:
- Invest at least $1 million in a US commercial enterprise and create at least ten full-time jobs for US citizens, or
- Inject at least $500,000 into a Targeted Employment Area, that is, an area identified by the government as a rural or high unemployment.
The intent of the lawmakers was to stimulate the US economy growth by means of job creation and also to give rural and economically challenged areas a chance to compete for foreign capital.
Every year, about 10,000 EB-5 slots are opened.
A Sword of Damocles of sorts is always hanging above the EB-5 visa program as the US Congress can make it so that the program is discontinued or changed drastically.
Latest news from the front lines
Before March 23, 2018, the US Congress is to review the program yet again and determine whether to adopt the proposed changes to it, or even put an end to it.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the authority that sets the program guidelines and monitors their implementation, has somewhat alleviated the fears of the program being cancelled by tweeting:
“EB-5 visas provide lawful permanent residence to foreign nationals who promote economic growth in the United States. We’re working to fix the programme.”
The USCIS has, however, proposed a series of amendments – and the chief among them is the prospective change to the minimum investment amount.
To “account for inflation since the inception of the program,” the USCIS suggests the following changes:
- To increase the standard investment amount to $1.8 million
- To increase the TEA investment amount to over $1 million.
This has already created a hype among would-be investors who rush to take part in the program, and it is expected that the cost increase will lower the number of foreign investors who cannot afford the financial burden. The alterations in the program conditions could also potentially increase the time it takes the US authorities to review the application.
EB-5 Investor Visa in numbers
Here are the stats from the official US Department of State report on EB-5 visa in fiscal year 2017:
According to the report released in January 2017 by the US Department of Commerce, close to $6 billion were injected into the economy by 11,000 immigrant investors for 562 EB-5 related projects active in fiscal years 2012-2013 – about a third of the total investment amount of $17 billion.
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