Chinese Investors Are Currently Being Kept Away from The US Due to a Sixteen-Year Visa Wait

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2035 may well be the earliest that a Chinese national, applying today for a U.S. immigrant investor visa may get one.

Charles Oppenheim, chief of the State Department’s Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division, said recently at a conference, that the average waiting time isn’t much shorter for other countries in the same situation.  With more than 34,000 applicants waiting for approximately 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year, Indian nationals are looking at 8.4 years, and Vietnamese are facing 7.6 years.

Threatening to undermine a policy that has brought billions of dollars to the U.S and created thousands of jobs are the long waits, a function of caps on the visas overall and per country. The cut down is happening just as Trump’s government reviews legislation, trying to reduce fraud and ensure more investment goes to the intended rural areas.

More than 80 small business projects, have had financial help from American Lending Centre, using immigrant investment funds.  However, there’s concern that funding for projects could disappear as interest in the program reduces, said a chief executive officer.

The Impact on Families

Foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise, are provided a green card in this program. Investment through the regional centre program, is the most common form and enables immigrants to pool their investments toward the visa requirements.

Unlike the diversity lottery and the H-1B skilled guest-worker visas, EB-5 visas haven’t drawn much attention from the White House.

Although they may use remaining visas for countries that don’t use up their total amount, nationals are capped at 7 percent of the total.  A part from than that, the visas are available; first-come, first-served basis.

Enormous wait times are still being seen by Chinese investors, who for years have made up the majority of EB-5 applicants despite large numbers of nationals coming from Vietnam and India. 

Children’s Eligibility in Jeopardy

Some children have become too old to be considered dependents entitled to green cards, through his or her parent’s EB-5 visa, as their investor parents have been waiting so long. Shen says this is a worst-case scenario, as many of the Chinese’ motivations are to obtain a visa so their children have the opportunity to attend schools there and ultimately live and work in the US.

For purposes of visa eligibility, a “child” is defined as someone under 21 and unmarried.

If a child applies for the visa directly, they won’t age out of visa eligibility, while waiting for it to become available.

Billions Raised

EB-5 investors contributed $5.8 billion out of a total of $16.7 billion in investments in EB-5-related projects in fiscal years 2012 and 2013A January 2017 Commerce Department study found. Such projects were supposed to create in excess of 174,000 jobs.

However, the program is certainly not without hiccups.

Several high-profile cases against regional centre operators for misappropriating millions of dollars in EB-5 funds, have been brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As a result, investors have lost both money and visas.

Some senators accused Former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas of exerting inappropriate influence on a case which involved a company run by the former secretary of state’s brother and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Homeland Security Department Inspector General’s Office later claimed that he had created the illusion of a conflict of interest when he reviewed and approved the application.

Sens. Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy, prominent lawmakers, have asked for adjustments to the program in order to reduce fraud. The current program also allows too much development in wealthy urban areas, they also believe.

Proposed EB-5 overhaul regulations in January 2017, were proposed by Obama that would address these concerns.  However, the final version wasn’t revealed for at least another two years.  Since late February, they have been under review with the White House Office of Management and Budget.

For the Children

Despite the fact several Vietnamese investors are pulling out, a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Wolfsdorf, said that he hasn’t seen a big decrease in EB-5 interest.  The potential wait is worth it for parents who are sufficiently motivated.

Wolfsdorf also said that, many people believe that having the opportunity for their children to live the American dream and study in America cannot be outdone.

For Indian immigrants, who face waits of decades for other types of employment-based visas that, unlike the H1-B, lead to permanent residency, EB-5 still remains a more realistic alternative. For example, Indians wanting EB-3 visas—which go to workers with bachelor’s degrees—are now facing an approximately 50-year wait.

Wolfsdorf said that there are basically 2 choices for an Indian professional in the U.S. on an H-1B and looking to stay: wait 8.4 years or wait 50 years. Consequently EB-5 remains alive and kicking for Indians.

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Moscow, Dubai, Cyprus and China and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions in the UK EU & the Caribbean. Astons is a committed and regulated Member of the Investment Migration Council (IMC), for EU & Caribbean investment immigration.  

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at info@astons.com  or call +44 207 292 2977.