Quick route to US green cards: After Chinese & Koreans, HNIs go for EB5 permanent visas
Posted on September 10, 2014
For the first time since it was created 24 years ago, employment-based fifth preference (EB5), the American government’s fast-track permanent residence programme for people willing to invest half a million dollars and create 10 jobs in the US, has hit its annual cap for the 2014 fiscal year as far as Chinese nationals are concerned.
And it’s not just the Chinese. Rich Indians, too, are increasingly looking at EB5, under which up to 10,000 visas are issued a year to immigrant investors to help stimulate the US economy. Investments are routed through designated regional centres in the US, which are authorised by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“There is a much higher level of interest in the EB5 programme among Indians over the last few years than before, largely because of the increasing number of HNIs (high net worth individuals) here who can afford to make the required investment as well as more awareness about the programme following big marketing efforts by US immigration lawyers and the designated regional centres,” says Mumbai-based immigration lawyer Poorvi Chothani.
The advantage that EB5 provides is quick access to US green cards, with a success rate of more than 80 per cent. Once an individual has a green card based on the EB5 investment, the person is free to live and work anywhere in the US, which is an advantage over other employment-based visa programmes.
“While the interest among Indians doesn’t in any way compare with that of the Chinese, Indian HNIs have become more interested in this category so that their children studying at US colleges get a fast track to US green cards, since other permanent residency routes take a lot of time,” points out Cyrus Mehta, New York-based immigration attorney.
The EB5 programme for Indian nationals is still current unlike the Chinese, and does not suffer the crushing backlogs for green card as in other employment-based immigrant visa categories, such as the EB3 for professional workers with a US bachelor’s or foreign equivalent degree and with a job offer from a US company.
“If an employer sponsors you under the India EB3, it may take decades before you can get a green card. You also do not need to have an employer to petition on your behalf (for EB5) … I can see more Indians going through the EB5 category as Chinese investors start backing off because of the quota retrogression for them,” Mehta adds.
An advantage of having permanent residency visa for Indian families will be in lower tuition costs for their children in contrast to the high international costs associated with universities and colleges, says Maliha Mian, associate director, EB5 programme at Meditex EB-5, a regional centre in Houston, Texas.
Garrett Kenny, who runs EB5Select, a company in Florida that works with regional EB5 centres, has been getting a large number of enquiries from Indian investors in the past few months.
“The third-largest number of enquiries come from Indian nationals, after the Chinese and South Koreans,” he says.
In Kenny’s opinion, Indians are more hands-on with their investments and would like to invest in businesses that they can manage or control, such as gas stations or convenience stores while the Chinese are open to being hands-off, primarily interested in the fast-track green cards.
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