For every person who believes the EB-5 visa program for immigrant investors is great, there is at least one other person who believes it is time to add some specific and necessary changes to the legislation. With an extension of the bill recently passed, pushing its lifespan to at least September 30th 2016, people of foreign countries who invest at least half a million dollars in a company on United States soil can gain permanent residence. One of the only “catches” is that their investment must create 10 or more jobs for American citizens within the first two years the investment is made. For those seeking employment or the growth of their city, the EB-5 visa program is a boon. To others, it is seen as an open door for anyone with money to come into the country.
Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican – Iowa) has been particularly vocal about wanting to see changes. He speculates that only two types of people can primarily use the EB-5 visa program as it currently stands:
- Wealthy real estate developers who want to build more in already-wealthy communities.
- Terrorists seeking a way into the United States virtually unchecked.
Whether they share Mr. Grassley’s concerns or not, there are various other politicians, lawmakers, and professional organizations, such as Invest in the USA (IIUSA), who want to see big changes, and they would like them now.
Three of the major changes being considered for the EB-5 visa program are:
- Minimum investment: $500,000 may seem like a rare bundle for most people but for foreign investors, it is just a drop in a pond, proponents of changing the program claim. To encourage even more economic growth and deter potential fraudsters from using the system, many would like to see the minimum investment requirement raised to $800,000, or even up to $1 million in certain cases.
- Targeted employment: Concerns that all of the money and investments are only going to those already well-off has caused some lawmakers to propose that the EB-5 visa program dedicate a set percentage of visas offered in a year towards projects that target areas of low employment or poor economy. If an investor stated that they wanted to start a company in a rural or impoverished region, they could expect to see a break on the minimum investment amount or regulations.
- Screening: In an effort to stabilize national security from potential outside threats, some politicians expect to see more restrictions and security screenings defined in the EB-5 visa program. In particular, they want to know exactly who is trying to enter the country, and why.
At this time, as Congress still debates the validity of the EB-5 visa for immigrant investor system as a whole, it is unclear if or when any of these changes will take place. To stay up to speed on this ongoing story, be sure to visit our immigration law blog often. If you or a family member are an immigrant and you are facing legal troubles, you can also contact our Washington D.C. immigration attorneys from The Patel Law Group today.