Over the past few years, the H-1B visa program, which enables US employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers, has been facing increasing uncertainty. The program has been hit by layoffs in several sectors, and the US government has tightened the eligibility criteria, making it harder for companies to obtain these visas. As a result, many foreign workers and investors are turning to the EB-5 program, which is gradually emerging as a preferred alternative to the H-1B visa.
The EB-5 visa program, administered by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provides a permanent residency option to foreign nationals who invest a minimum of $800,000 in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least ten jobs for U.S. workers. The EB-5 program has several advantages over the H-1B visa, such as providing permanent residency status, allowing the investor to live and work anywhere in the United States, and providing a pathway to citizenship.
One of the primary reasons for the increasing interest in the EB-5 program is the uncertainty surrounding the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa program has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many companies laying off workers due to the economic downturn. According to reports, more than 216,000 tech employees have been laid off since the start of 2022. This has left many foreign workers who were previously reliant on the H-1B program with few options. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) has made the EB-5 program more appealing to H-1B visa holders who are already in the United States and wish to transition to permanent residency status. H-1B visa holders can now change their visa status from H-1B to EB-5 while still residing in the United States. This eliminates the need for H-1B visa holders to return to their home country and go through consular processing, which can be time-consuming and logistically challenging.
In contrast, the EB-5 program is a permanent visa option that is not subject to the same uncertainties as the H-1B visa program. Investors who obtain an EB-5 visa can live and work anywhere in the United States without the fear of losing their status due to layoffs or changes in immigration policies. Moreover, the EB-5 program provides a pathway to citizenship, allowing investors to become U.S. citizens if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Although the minimum investment requirement for the EB-5 program has recently been raised to $800,000, the program has continued to gain popularity in recent years. Indian investors, in particular, have shown significant interest, with demand for EB-5 visas from India surging by 400% between 2016 and 2019. In 2022, the number of applications filed by Indian investors reached 1,381, marking a substantial 75% increase from 2019 and indicating a persistent upward trend in the program’s appeal.
In conclusion, the limitations and uncertainties of the H-1B visa program, coupled with the recent changes in immigration laws, have led many H-1B visa holders to shift their interest towards the EB-5 visa program as a preferred option to obtain permanent residency status. The ability to concurrently file the EB-5 petition and adjustment of status, as enabled by the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA), has made the EB-5 program more accessible and appealing to H-1B visa holders who are already in the United States. The permanent residency status, flexibility, and pathway to citizenship offered by the EB-5 program have become attractive factors for H-1B visa holders seeking a more stable and long-term immigration solution for themselves and their families.
Article from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/how-eb-5-is-gradually-emerging-as-a-preferred-alternative-to-h1b-visa/