This year, the number of Indian EB-5 applicants has skyrocketed. A major reason for this is because in 2017 immigrating to the US became more difficult due to new restrictions being placed on employment-based visas. Other reasons include: increased waiting lists for other visas, the EB-5 visa’s popularity as a simple way to obtain permanent residency, lessened requirements for obtaining an EB-5 visa, and the Trump administration’s stricter policies for obtaining other visas. All of these factors have led to a spike in the number of Indian EB-5 applications received this year. If you are interested in seeking an employment visa, reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and guidance on if the EB-5 visa is right for you.
The EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program was adopted into law in 1990 with the goal of stimulating the American economy and creating American jobs through foreign investment. This is done with a minimum investment of $500,000 into a new commercial enterprise of a designated size. The investment can be made by purchasing an existing enterprise for reconstruction or reorganization to maximize results, or by showing that the investment will increase the network of the company or number of employees by a minimum of 40%. The minimum qualifying investment for this visa program is $1,000,000. However, in areas that are deemed high-unemployment areas and rural areas, the minimum investment required drops to $500,000. This is an employment-based visa that allows you to work for the company you are investing in.
Qualifications for an EB-5 Visa
When it comes to the EB-5 visa, there are only two qualifications that must be met. This is very different from other visas which can have a long list of qualifications that must be met to apply. To obtain an EB-5 visa, a person must be able to invest at least $500,000 (plus additional costs such as fees and taxes) into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs. The second qualification requires proof that the money was lawfully obtained and is not borrowed money.
These qualifications make the visa open to many more people, and as a result, there is an increasing number of Indian citizen applications being received. The process of investing in a business is also made easier by choosing to invest in a regional center. These are businesses that have been approved to accept investments from EB-5 visa holders. Additionally, if these regional centers are located in rural areas with high unemployment, an investment of $500,000 is required as opposed to the normal $1,000,000.
How the EB-5 is Different From Other Employment Visas
Many people are attracted to this visa because it does not require you to speak English, have business management experience, meet any educational requirements, and college fees are offered at the same rates as U.S. citizens. This is vastly different from other visas which have numerous specific qualifications that have to be met.
What attracts most people to this program is the benefit of permanent residency. While permanent residency is not initially granted, it can be applied for after a period of time, usually under 21 months, with the condition that 10 permanent full-time jobs have in fact been created. Some visas explicitly state that while you have them you cannot apply for permanent residency and others can take many years before you’re even allowed to apply.
Why So Many Indian Citizens are Applying for the EB-5
A major reason so many Indian Citizens are applying for the EB-5 visa is that there is currently no backlog. Through this visa, Indian Citizens can expect to have a green card within two years. This is a significantly shorter time than other visas such as the EB-2 and EB-3. However, because there has been such an increase in the number of Indian applicants, it is likely that there will be a backlog in 2019.
The EB-5 visa offers far more freedom of career movement. This is because the EB-5 does not require you to have an employer sponsor, which makes you more attractive to US employers because of the less strict regulations on your employment terms. Having to obtain an employer sponsor presents many challenges that make it harder to obtain the visa, and makes the application process even longer.
Since the Trump administration has begun making changes to immigration policy, obtaining a visa is becoming much harder, and is expected to get even more difficult in the coming years. This has to lead many Indian Citizens to decide to apply for a visa now rather than waiting. If you are interested in applying for the EB-5 visa, it’s important to know that the Regional Center program is set to expire in January 2018. While it is expected to be renewed, the program will likely see many changes. Proposals to the program have been made to raise the minimum investment in high unemployment and rural areas to $925,000 and the regular minimum investment to $1.35 million. These changes could be enacted soon, so many Indians have decided to apply now before the investment requirements are raised. The Trump administration has expressed a desire to make immigration to the US more challenging, and so far they have delivered on that promise by making the H1-B visa harder to obtain. It is likely that as long as they are in office, obtaining a visa will only continue to get harder.
Many Indian citizens who are applying for employment visas are interested in their children attending US universities. Because the EB-5 visa allows you to become a permanent resident, many students are eligible for in-state tuition. In-state tuition is often significantly cheaper than the full tuition rate that foreign nationals are required to pay.
If you are interested in the EB-5 visa, reach out to an immigration attorney for more information on how to obtain one and the current state of the visa.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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