Indians prefer EB-5 investor visa as US tightens rule on H-1B work visa

Time runs out for GCC investors to avail U.S. EB-5 Visa Programme to invest in US projects and help create jobs in America


Abdul Basit

Dubai – With the recent move by the Trump administration to tighten H-1B visa approval, more Indians are taking the Employment-Based (EB-5) visa route to make their American dreams come true, according to an immigration specialist.
Under the new policy, a company will have to go an extra mile to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in the speciality occupation.
Under the EB-5 visa rule, the US virtually takes a ‘loan’ from these investors who can have it ‘reimbursed’ after getting a Green Card in 4-6 years.
After China and Vietnam, India is the third largest investor in the US by way of the EB-5 visa. Indians filed 354 applications last year under this rule.
EB-5 Visa may be costlier or tougher after March 23, 2018, as the United States Congress is likely to pass a long-term re-authorisation of EB-5 Investor Immigration Programme in March before the programme expires on March 23, 2018, that would reform and extend the popular immigration through investment programme and help the US create more jobs, said Stephen Strnisha, a Board Officer of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the EB-5 industry trade association, and Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland International Fund (CIF).
Speaking to journalists in Dubai, Strnisha said time runs out for GCC investors to avail US EB-5 Visa Programme to invest in US projects and help create jobs in America.
He mentioned that in the UAE Indian expats are on top for applying for the EB-5 visa. There are also some Syrians and Egyptians, who are investing in this programme, he informed.
US Government offers up to 10,000 Green Cards per year under the EB-5 Investor Immigration Programme to investors who inject US$500,000 into job-creating projects through designated ‘Regional Centres’.
Under the programme, an investor typically receives a modest economic return – in the form of interest or profit – but receives permanent residency in the United States and is able to receive its money back after 4-6 years. The condition for the investment programme is that the project receiving the EB-5 funds will have to generate 10 jobs per investor utilising in its financing.
“The re-authorisation would provide various incentives to spread the economic benefits of EB-5 investment to more areas in the United States. Congress finally appears close to passing a long-term re-authorisation with reforms by the March deadline.”
The length of this wait for Chinese investors has now reduced demand from that country which has, in turn, caused regional centres to spend more time and effort actively soliciting investors from other parts of the world.
“This is a positive development for all interested individuals in the Middle East, where there is no retrogression and an increasing number of regional centres providing a variety of offerings for investor consideration,” Stephen Strnisha, who addressed potential investors in Dubai, says.
The move will help increased investment inflow into the US where the Trump administration is focusing on creating new jobs for US citizens. Instead of job-seeking immigrants, the EB-5 focuses on attracting job-creating immigrants and therefore falls in line with both President Trump’s immigration policy but also holds wide support from both Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress.
GCC investors, who have taken advantage of the EB-5 programme in a big way, can now look at greater opportunities once the new reforms are passed by the US legislature, he says.
“The investment amount for most EB-5 offerings will increase immediately from $500,000 to most likely $925,000. There will also be greater compliance requirements for regional centres which will increase their cost of operations but also bring greater integrity to the programme.”
“Finally, it is also unlikely that there will be an increase in the 10,000 annual visa limit. This should have the effect, however, of regional centres becoming even more active in markets like the UAE and GCC and also likely to lead to EB-5 offerings proposing higher rates of return to its investors.”
EB-5 allows for investors to be eligible to receive their investment back after completion of their sustainment period. Based on current United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times that period is approximately 4-6 years for investors from countries not impacted by retrogression.