This month’s scenes of valid green card holders being held at airports across the country after the U.S. president’s hastily drawn travel ban in late January may have dampened the attractiveness of the destination for immigrants but soon there may be another reason to avoid the U.S.: the price for getting an immigrant investment visa may go up. Way up. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to hike the minimum investment amount required to apply for the popular, if controversial, EB-5 investment visa to $1.35 million from $500,000.
By proposing rule changes instead of going through Congress, DHS may have effectively devised a way to introduce reforms that have eluded EB-5 for years. Most observers expect the changes will go through, although with adjustments to the investment thresholds. Congress could, however, step in before the comment period ends with their own proposals, which could even include the program’s elimination.
EB-5 has been wildly popular among investors in China as an easy way to immigrate to the U.S. Rosen Consulting Group estimates Chinese investors have generated at least $9.5 billion in investment capital and created at least 200,000 jobs since flocking to EB-5 beginning in 2010. In 2015, the government had to impose a quota system so others could get one of the 10,000 EB-5 visas issued each year to investor applicants and their family members. In fiscal year 2015, 8,156 EB-5 visas were issued to mainland Chinese, about 84% of a total 9,764 visas, U.S. Department of State statistics show.
The backlog of Chinese applicants extends as long as five years by some estimates. Those who had their initial petitions accepted still can invest only $500,000 and can keep their place in line for permanent residency. Yet the leap in the required investment, combined with China tightening restrictions on capital outflows and Trump’s anti-China rhetoric, will likely make many Chinese think twice about moving to America.
Read the full article at barrons.com