Demand for EB-5 Visa on Rise in India
At a time when H-1B visa rules are being tightened + , there is growing interest in the EB-5 visa program. The number of EB-5 visas issued to Indians touched a record 174 between October 2016 and 2017, up from 149 in the corresponding year-ago period.
Under the EB-5 visa programme, also dubbed as ‘cash for visa’, individuals can apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States (this is not citizenship) for themselves, their spouse and children below 21 years, if they make the necessary investments and create at least 10 permanent full time jobs for US workers. The current minimum threshold investment limit is US$ 1 million (which translates to Rs 6.5 crore).
A reduced investment of $500,000 is permitted for business operations in specified rural areas or those with higher unemployment limits – known as target employment areas (TEAs). Mark Davies, chairman and managing attorney of Davies and Associates, New York City told TOI, “Two years back, most people were not aware of the existence of the EB-5 program. However, now the awareness has skyrocketed, and therefore, the number of applications has increased enormously.”
Vivek Tandon, CEO of EB-5 BRICS, an advisory firm in California, said, “The EB-5 visa program has been in existence since last 30 years. Since 2015, there have been many proposals to increase the investment amount. This could have an adverse effect on the number of applications being filed out of India.”
According to some reports, the program is likely to be tweaked after September 2018. Ishaan Khanna, director of Investor Relations, who was on an F1 visa studying at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, has now decided to invest in the EB-5 visa.
He told TOI, “During the end of my third year in college, I realised how much the United States had to offer for someone like me and the professional opportunities I would have access to rather than in India. I was majoring in Information Systems at the time and I had just finished an internship with a tech company. Keeping all this in mind, I began to research all my immigration options and found the EB-5 visa which was suitable for me. Knowing that my H-1B visa chances were limited, I decided to invest in this.”