For many, the EB-5 visa has been a pathway for permanent resident status in the United States. In place since 1990, the visa provides wealthy foreign investors the legal grounds to obtain residency. There are many rules that govern the process to ensure that ten new jobs are created for American workers within a two year period. The minimum required investment is $500,000 and can go up to $1,000,000 – not chump change by anyone’s standards. Not to mention application and attorney’s fees, it can really add up for investor-immigrants!
The disproportionate amount of Asian applicants has been astounding, although the program itself still falls under 10,000 applicants per year, the maximum allowed under this program. Last year the numbers topped almost 8,000, nearing the quota for the year.To apply for an investor visa the initial cost is currently $270 and up. Each subsequent application for spouses or family members can be as high as $400 or higher for certain categories. The costs can be uncertain, but an immigration attorney can definitely be helpful in these cases.
Challenges For Asian-American Hopefuls
While the program has been seen as a success for many, there exist some challenges for investors of certain countries. Asian applications account for the majority of investors. Chinese immigrants are the large majority of these, while numbers from other Asian countries continue to grow. The numbers have always been rationed to provide an even picture of investment from around the world, but as the program has grown the maximum applicants from China have led to waiting lists for many. Investors from South Korea and Taiwan are also common but have not reached the levels of their larger neighbour.
Interestingly, at a time when immigration is a very hot-topic, growing numbers of immigrants from Asia have led to them surpassing that of Hispanics. A recent study from the Pew Research Center last spring has shown that 60 percent ofAsian immigrants between the ages of 25 and 64 hold college degrees, more than twice as those of immigrants from other regions. Asian students (international and naturalized) also hold the majority of engineering doctorates at 45 percent as well as over 30 percent of doctorates in math, computer sciences, and physical sciences.
The New Workforce Is Here
The era of the Asian American is here according to some who say that the new face of immigration is that of a highly skilled, highly educated worker capable of becoming the workforce of tomorrow. The labor-intensive manufacturing jobs of yesterday are gradually being replaced by jobs requiring a more educated skill set.
Investment from Chinese applicants will be an interesting development as lawmakers continue to adjust regulations to allow more creative implementation of investment funds. In 2008, the high-end hospitality chain Marriott International funded the development of an $88 million project with the investment of just 100 wealthy foreigners in Seattle – unheard of for a project of such scale. This led to at $48 million investment in the form of Washington state-issued bonds for the construction of a bridge to replace the existing infrastructure across Lake Washington in 2012. Similarly this was the case in Los Angeles when investors from the EB-5 visa program helped fund a much-needed expensive downtown hotel project, helping to alleviate the need for hotel rooms that had almost reached crisis levels for city-planners. Investment firms have taken notice of this need and have created connections for developers and those wealthy foreigners interested in a green card.
Responding In Kind
The market is noticing and has had positive results for many. The majority of investments have been seen in service-oriented areas such as hotels and motels, most likely because of their potential to employ many workers. Other areas that are generally invested in by foreigners are manufacturing companies, real estate companies, domestic sales companies, farms, restaurants, and technology companies. In the meantime, the jobs that have been created by the program so far are welcome in a country where unemployment and underemployment continue to be major topics, especially in dense urban centers and rural areas.
Carol Carter is a writer and immigration policy analyst. She has covered various topics related to immigration following an experience helping a friend become a naturalized citizen. She has used EB5Investors platform to inform colleagues of visa requirements and changes.
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