Two out of every three Indian candidates for the U.S. EB-5 investment visa cite the draw of a better education for their children as the key factor behind why they applied.
The statistic shows that high-net worth candidates consider improving their own circumstances as secondary to providing a better future for their offspring when looking to investment visas.
Despite uncertainty surrounding the future of the program under U.S. President Donald Trump, Indian investors still see it as a viable pathway to an American green card.
The EB-5 program has been the subject of a number of temporary extensions under both the current and previous U.S. administrations, with the current period set to expire on December 8, 2017.
Many within U.S. politics would like to see the visa scrapped, citing issues such as fraud and lengthy waiting lists. There are also those holding the core belief that a green card should not be for sale to high-net worth candidates.
Current US EB-5 Investment Requirements
- An EB-5 investor must invest in a new commercial enterprise.
- The investor must invest at least $1 million when investing in a general area of business or at least $500,000 when investing in a targeted employment area (“Regional Centres”).
- Within two years of admission as a Conditional Permanent Resident, the investor must create or preserve at least 10 full-time, direct or indirect jobs belonging to qualified US workers.
- See Tax Implications of Gaining Permanent Residence Through US EB-5 Visa.
Others have called for changes to the program, including raising the investment thresholds and redefining how Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) are allocated.
Under the current program, investors who pay $500,000 into projects creating 10 or more jobs in TEAs receive U.S. permanent residence. If the investment is outside a TEA, the threshold doubles to $1 million. A TEA is defined as a high unemployment area, but have been the subject of manipulation from real estate companies looking to attract investment.
Alternative U.S. Business Immigration Programs
- U.S. L 1 Visa: Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
- U.S. EB 1-C Visa: Multinational Executives and Managers
The U.S. government grants 10,000 visas per year under the EB-5 program, with 70 per cent of them snapped up by Chinese investors. The visa is also popular with candidates from Vietnam, South Korea, Russia and India.
There has been uncertainty over how Trump would view the program, given his tough stance on immigration and his background in property development. A spokesman for the White House said earlier in the year that the administration felt it was in need of ‘substantial repair’.
Fraud Cases Linked to EB-5
- Brokerage firm Raymond James paid a nearly $150 million settlement in a case involving alleged misuse of $200 million in EB-5 funds. Federal regulators say Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger used investor money intended for a biomedical research facility in Vermont to buy a luxury ski resort in a deal facilitated by Raymond James. Some 169 investors will be repaid following the settlement.
- Developer Lobsang Dargey was accused of defrauding Chinese investors out of money for a tower in Belltown. Dargey no longer has control of the project and denies any wrongdoing.
- American Life, a recipient of more than $1 billion in EB-5 investment money, was fined $1.2 million for facilitating payments to unlicensed intermediaries in the U.S.
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