In an effort to encourage job market growth from foreign partners and countries, the Immigration Act of 1990 created the EB-5 visa for immigrant investors. By investing anywhere between half-a-million to one million dollars in a new business or commercial enterprise and promising to create or maintain at least 10 jobs, immigrants approved for the visa, as well as their immediate family, gain a 2-year green card. Should they meet their goal of sustaining the business and the 10+ jobs, they may apply to have their green card converted into permanent residence with citizenship as the end goal.
While this all seems good on the surface, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been hit with near-constant criticism about the system as people speculate if it is being used to buy citizenship while other immigrants struggle to earn it. At the heart of the complaints is the fact that the USCIS deals with immigration law and problems the average immigrant can face, not with counting money and studying economic job markets. With an underprepared organization at the helm of the EB-5 visa program, skeptics believe the system is wrought with fraud and money that “disappears.”
If waiting for immigration approval, residency status, or citizenship testing is a family mini-van in terms of speed, the EB-5 visa system is a Lamborghini. Investor immigrant approval often takes less than 6-months whereas there are stories of average immigrants with no money waiting years for their day in the sun.
A Controversial Drop in a Big Sea
The government current limits the number of EB-5 visas granted each year to 10,000. If all of those are given to immigrant investors – a rare feat that was recently achieved in 2014 – and each one gives a full $1 million – an even rarer feat to be sure – the United States stands to gain $10 billion dollars from foreign investors. That is certainly a great sum of money but is it enough to justify the system? Every year, foreign investors give hundreds of billions of dollars through other, less-controversial means, making the EB-5 visa program only a drop in comparison.
With the program being recently renewed after review, it seems that it will be here to stay for at least a while longer. If you have any questions about EB-5 visas or any other aspect of legal immigration, you can contact our Washington D.C. immigration attorneys from The Patel Law Group at 888.223.8176.