With the US Congress preferring a temporary extension of the EB-5 program until December 2015, wealthy investors are rushing to apply for the US Green Card under the existing rules. With the controversial program coming under fire from critics for low investment requirements, widespread gerrymandering, and lack of oversight, immigration experts anticipate lawmakers to introduce tougher requirements and more stringent provisions in December.
The EB-5 program offers fast-track permanent residence to individuals, along with their dependents, who invest at least $1 million; $500,000 for Targeted Employment Areas; in a US business that, further, results in creation of at least ten permanent jobs in the country.
The program is popular amongst wealthy foreign investors, especially from China, seeking fast-track permanent residence in the most developed country of the world at a relatively-affordable cost. The 10,000-visa program became popular among businesses and property developers as an alternate source of affordable funding after conventional sources dried up following the 2008 recession.
Investors expect lawmakers to raise minimum investment requirements to $800,000 and $1.2 million for Targeted Areas and other areas respectively. Further, new rules may be introduced to remove loopholes, prevent gerrymandering, and improve oversight. Instances of misappropriation of investment funds and non-compliance of rules have resulted in suspension of investment firms and Regional Centers all over the country. An audit by the US Government Accountability Office revealed instances of 59 investigations relating to the program that are currently open.
Another reason behind the surge in interest from investors from China and South East Asia is the rigid currency export limits in these countries. A higher investment limit may make it tougher for investment immigrants to transfer funds to the USA.
However, even the existing application process is a complicated one involving numerous formalities spread over many months. For now, the temporary extension has helped those wishing to avoid the new rules and avail the current EB-5 program requirements.
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