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Indians are fifth largest investors in the program: US official

NEW DELHI | March 1

[caption id="attachment_25502" align="aligncenter" width="660"]USIF-EB5-India More takers The number of USIF Indian investors under the visa program quadrupled from 2016 to 2017 - Getty Images/iStockphoto[/caption]

The EB-5 Visa Program could be a good alternative for Indians wishing to migrate to the US, especially at a time when H1-B Visa rules are being tightened.

“The current administration isn’t against immigration, they are against illegal immigration. And they want to make the entire visa system more of a merit based system as opposed to a lottery. The EB-5 Visa is merit based as people are sacrificing something to get their green card,” said Andrew Graves, Director, Business Development, US Immigration Fund (USIF).

The EB-5 Program was created by the US Congress in 1990 and allows high net worth foreign investors to get a US visa for the investor and their immediate family through an investment of about $5,00,000 in a US business that will benefit the economy by creating a minimum of 10 permanent US jobs. Graves, who heads the India operations of USIF, said at present Indians are the fifth largest investors in the program but given the demographic size, they can turn into the second largest group in a few years.

“If you look at the demographics of India, it is an extremely large country and has lots of wealth. It has the second largest immigrant group to the US behind Mexico. The second largest international student base to the US is also from India,” he told BusinessLine, adding that most applicants use EB-5 for their children’s education in the US.

In 2017, there were only 307 applications under the EB-5 Visa from India as compared to 26,725 applications from those born in mainland China.

The number of USIF Indian investors quadrupled from 2016 to 2017 and Graves expressed confidence that it will increase further in 2018.

Graves however, said that changes are expected in the EB-5 Visa Program too. The US Congress may hike the minimum investment amount for EB-5 from $500,000 to close to $1 million and from $1 million to $1.8 million per applicant respectively.

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NAVEENA GHANATE | Mar 1, 2018 us-immigration-fund-eb5-visa Due to speculation over the increase in minimum investments for EB-5 (employment-based fifth preference) Immigrant Investor Visa, the US Immigration Fund (USIF) is receiving many more applications for this visa type. An EB5 visa is issued to foreign investors investing in the US economy, i.e. a person who wants to start a business or wants to invest money in a US government approved project can apply for it. According to this visa programme, a person who invests $1 million in the US will be given a conditional green card. If the person is investing in a targeted employment area (TEA), in the US, then the minimum investment amount is $500,000. TEA is generally a rural area or region with high unemployment in the US. If the applicant can create 10 jobs for US citizens, then he/she will be able to get a permanent green card for their immediate family. EB-5 is considered a superior option to work, stay and become a US citizen quickly. The speculation is that Congress may hike the minimum investment amount from $500,000 to close to $1 million for TEA and from $1 million to $1.8 million for other areas, per applicant. According to USCIS data, Indian EB-5 visa applicants have increased consistently in recent years with 174 petitions filed in 2017, a 57 per cent increase from 2015. About 10,000 such visas are issued every year. The number of USIF Indian investors quadrupled from 2016 to 2017.  Andrew Graves, the head of USIF’s India operations said, “We expect that the number of investors in 2018 will increase to more than 200, assuming the minimum investment amount remains at $500,000. Should the minimum investment amount increase, a portion of the potential investors could be priced out. A change in the overall EB-5 market is inevitable if investment level does go up.” The EB-5 Program is expected to see significant legislative changes by March 23, 2018. So now is the time to invest at the lower investment amount. USIF is one of America’s leading EB-5 Regional Centre operators and holds the exclusive rights for raising and investing EB-5 capital for several large-scale residential and commercial real estate projects. USIF’s 24 EB-5 projects will generate roughly 18,000 EB-5 green cards arising from 6,000 investors and their families. The current waiting list for Indians for typical visa programmes like H1B, L1, EB 1A/B/C, EB-2, and EB-3 has grown to 10 years or more. There is currently no waiting list for EB-5 investors from India. Shan Chopra, partner at USIF and managing partner of The Chopras Group, said, “We’ve witnessed growing interest from families wanting to expand their business operations into the US or for their children to have greater freedom and mobility in their professional lives without having to rely on an employer to sponsor them. We’ve seen over 3,000 enquiries since we started and over 600-plus meetings via seminars and one-on-one interactions in the last five months.”