As H-1B visas become more restrictive and gain longer waiting times, Indians are turning to the EB-5 Program to obtain U.S. green cards. Major EB-5 regional centers could see EB-5 visa filings from India double this year. Top Regional Center, CanAm Investor Services, has already reported receiving twice as many EB-5 visa filings from Indian applicants.
The September 30th EB-5 sunset date has investors rushing to file their I-526 Petition before the deadline. Indian nationals, in particular, have noticed the advantages of the EB-5 Program over other visa programs are locking in their spots in the program before the program is possibly scrapped, reformed or further backlogged.
The EB-5 Program gives visas to foreign nationals who make a $1 million investment, or a $500,000 investment in a targeted employment area, into a U.S. job creating new commercial enterprise.
While it’s unlikely that the EB-5 Regional Center Program will be allowed to expire, it is possible that it could face a few reforms. The two reforms that potential investors are worried about are the increased minimum investment amount and restrictions on targeted employment areas.
The minimum investment amount for an investment in a targeted employment area could be increased from $500,000 to $800,000 or even $1 million. The minimum investment amount has not seen an increase since the program’s inception in 1990.
Congress could also impose restrictions on targeted employment areas, which some congressmen have complained about as being a free pass to build in major cities when it was created with the intention of pouring investment money into rural or high unemployment areas. The amount of investors in the program could decrease if this change occurs because many investors may find it too risky to place their capital in projects in truly rural areas.
Indian investors also see a huge opportunity to file their EB-5 applications now before India faces a retrogression. Mainland China and Vietnam are already subject to retrogression and other countries such as Brazil, South Korea, and India could be next. Each country is only allowed a maximum of about 700 visas before they face retrogression. This cap of 700 includes visas for spouses and children. Therefore, the true cap for EB-5 investors per country may be under 280 visas, depending on how many children the average applicant from a particular country has. India is quickly approaching this cap.
The EB-5 visa is extremely appealing to Indian wealthy nationals who previously used other visa categories. Other visas, such as the H-1B restrict where a visa holder could live and who they could work for. The EB-5 Program has no such restrictions on investors. Investors can enjoy living anywhere in the U.S., working any job, and attending any school. They do not have to live near their investment. They also do not have to manage the day to day operations of their investments if they do not wish to. Additionally, they can add their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to their application.
For more information, or to find out more about applying to the EB-5 Program, send us a message.
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