EB5 visa programme allows an individual to invest $500,000 in the US
As Trump Administration tightens the H1-B visa programme rules, an investment-facilitating firm is targeting rich Indians with the EB5 visa that provides a faster way to US citizenship, and is popularly known as the "Golden Visa".
Operations for India was launched this year by The US Immigration Fund (USIF). The USIF is positive that wealthy Indians who invest half or more than a million dollars in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), creating 10 or more jobs, will get US citizenship in a lesser time compared to the H1-B visa programme, under the EB5 visa programme.
US President Donald Trump has called for strengthening norms for granting of H1-B visas, grabbed largely of by Indian IT firms. A private member's bill was also introduced earlier this year in the US Congress by Democrat Zoe Lofgren which seeks to increase the minimum salary of an H1-B visa holder from the current minimum of $60,000 to a whopping $130,000.
Andrew Graves, USIF's Director of Business Development in India, told IANS "the demand for EB5 has gone up, with the H1-B environment becoming tougher and tougher. He said "Indians are becoming more aware about the EB5 visa programme".
What Is the EB5 Visa Programme?
The EB5 visa programme was introduced by the US Congress in 1990 that allows an individual to invest $500,000 in either of two TEAs, a high unemployment area in a US metropolis or a rural area far from a metro , or $1 million in a non-TEA area that can offer at least 10 or more jobs.
The US Congress extended the programme till September 30 this year, earlier this month, which has been a controversial subject over the merits of its applicants,.
When an application is filed for an EB5 visa programme, he or she gets a temporary US Green Card for 16 months upon filling a I526 form under a US attorney,Graves explained.
Around two years later, if the conditions are fulfilling, the applicant has to fill in the I829 form after that he or she will be granted lawful permanent residency in the US.
"In this way, the EB5 can get an applicant US citizenship within a lump-sum of five years," Graves added.
The USIF clams to have a proven track record of 100 per cent approval rating from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on all adjudicated projects.
Currently, it includes 6,400 investors and has 24 projects in the real estate sector to its credit with $3.2 billion in EB5 capital.
The largest beneficiary of the EB5 visa programme is China that accounts for 75.6 per cent or over 7,500 visas.
India with 149 visas, is at the sixth place in the list after Vietnam with 334, South Korea with 260, Taiwan with 205 and Brazil with 130 visas.
But Graves feels that Indians can make it to the second spot after China.
"We are pretty sure that India will get a strong second place after China," he said.
With the coming uncertainty on the H1-B visa programme, more and more Indians graduating from US universities are choosing the EB5 visa for US citizenship.
What’s the advantage?
If a worker holding with H1-B visa loses his or her job, he or she will not be able to live in the US along with family but on the other hand, once he or she gets a permanent residency, then he or she will be no longer dependent on others for staying in the US until the person is law-abiding and is renewing the Green Card on time.
But it may be close to impossible to invest a minimum of $500,000 to apply for an EB5 visa.
"It generally comes as a gift from the family as they wanted to ensure the son or daughter's future," Graves said, indicating that only the more wealthy Indians can afford the "Golden Visa".
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