The US EB-5 program has received yet another last-minute extension that now keeps the investment immigration program alive until January 19, 2018. The extension was voted and passed as a part of extending of Continuing Appropriations for all government services and programs.
While the decision was widely welcomed, immigration experts and consultants hoped that this was the last of the series of short-term extensions that has kept the program alive. Introduced in 1990 with the aim of attracting foreign investment, the controversial program that offers the coveted American green card to entrepreneurs/investors and their dependent family members has been the target of many controversies and criticisms in the recent past.
The program offers permanent residence against minimum investment of $1 million, which is reduced to just $500,000 for those investing in a rural area or a high-unemployment region and fulfillment of specific job creation requirements.
Divergence of views and lack of political will have compelled lawmakers to defer the reform process despite growing concerns about sale of American citizenship, very low investment requirements, and national security risks. Further, the program has also been criticized for questionable interpretation of investment rules and lack of effective oversight.
Yet, there is no consensus on how the program should be reformed with views ranging from termination of the program to maintenance of the status quo on all aspects including the minimum investment requirement.
Despite criticisms and concerns, demand for the EB-5 visa remains high among the global elite, especially among high-net worth individuals residing in China and India. While China continues to remain on top, citizens of other nations like India and Vietnam have begun aggressively pursuing this option in recent year.
Currently ranked sixth in the program, applications from India have tripled over the past three years. For many applicants, access to better education and employment opportunities for children is an important reason for choosing the program. As instances of poor documentation and bad investment decisions go down, number of successful applicants from India is expected to continue to rise in the future.
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