Saturday, 27 July 2019

Revised US EB-5 Visa rules to hurt Green Card seekers. Know why

Coming November, obtaining US permanent residency visa (Green Card) is going to cost more to rich foreigners as the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees immigration, has hiked the minimum investment required to
obtain EB 5 visa, that grants a two-year conditional green card.

According to the new rules published in the Federal Register yesterday, one has to invest a minimum amount of $900,000, up from $500,000 set in 1993, to obtain EB-5 visa.

The new rules say individuals have to invest at least $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area and $1.8 million in other parts of the country, up from $1 million required earlier. These investments are sought to generate local jobs in rural areas or in areas having high unemployment. The rule takes effect on Nov. 21, 2019.

Currently, US issues 10,000 such visas every year, with a per country limit of 700 visas. This type of visa is very much popular with wealthy Indians who want to move to the US. In the fiscal year 2018, India breached the country cap for the first time since 1990, when it was first launched. 

The country cap of 700 and a requirement to create 10 jobs locally remains unchanged.

“Indian immigrants will be slower in applying for EB-5 visa. They will also be careful with respect to their choice of regional center and projects,” Abhinav Lohia, Director-South Asia and Middle East, CanAm Investor Services, told a business daily, about the impact of the new rules.

The rise in minimum investment, coupled with a backlog in employment-based green cards like the EB-2 and EB-3, will impact Indians living in India as well as those living in the US on H1-B visas, he added.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now revise the amounts every five years to account for inflation. 

With four months left before the rules take effect, immigration experts say a surge is expected in EB-5 visa application as investors can still apply for the visa with the current $500,000 minimum investment.

Worth mentioning here is that the EB-5 visa programme has been linked to multiple controversies with investors’ money being spent on luxurious projects rather than in the distressed areas Congress intended. Fraudsters use this visa to swindle foreigners.


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