Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EB-5 Investment Visas in High Demand

10/3/14 - Some foreigners visit and/or live in America on a student visa, others on a work visa, and still others through diplomatic pathways. However, there is another way, not so well known: investment visas. According to an article by Frank Shyong, of the L.A. Times, Chinese citizens that holds a majority of these visas, which are awarded to those investors who put anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million into various United States businesses.

These visas, called EB-5 visas, which allow wealthy foreigners to immigrate into the United States in exchange for a hefty investment, are unfortunately being stretched too thin. According to Shyong, so many of these visas have been claimed in recent times that they have all but run out. While this program has been around for 24 years, this is the first time in its history that investors had to be turned away, simply because there weren't any of the EB-5 visas left to grant. Even after the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year with new visas available, changes to the system could make the application process much longer, and thus drive away potential investors.

Shyong's statistics show that 85% of EB-5 investors come from China, likely pursuing such immigration opportunities due to economic and environmental downturn in their home country. California, where approximately 25% of such investments are carried out, is filling up with new projects that both contribute millions of dollars into the economy and create jobs for many of our unemployed workers.

While EB-5 visas are helpful, both for the investor and for the American economy, the new restrictions being placed on such visas will have quite an opposite effect. Wealthy investors would be forced to wait up to three years for paperwork to be completed, and even then not know whether they would get the visa or not. Those American businesses relying on EB-5 funds would have to grind to a halt, unable to continue work without the investment money they need. Many politicians are pushing for decreased restrictions in the granting of EB-5 visas, due to the incredible amount of good these investments due for the American economy. While bills have been submitted for approval, all we can really do is wait and hope: Americans, hoping for continued investment in our economy, and Chinese investors, hoping to make it off the waiting list and finally be allowed to hold a visa.

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