The popular EB-5 immigration program has exceeded its applicant limit for the third consecutive year. Applications have more than doubled, from 13,526 during the first quarter of 2015 to 21,988 over the same period this year. At the same time, EB-5 visa approvals have dropped.
“The drop in approvals is somewhat deceptive,” stated Ronald Shapiro of Chicago’s Shapiro Law Group. “The closure of Canada’s Immigrant Investor program has created more competition among applicants to the US program. This leads to more incomplete applications, which leads to fewer approvals.”
Foreign investors willing to inject at least $500,000 into a business project that creates at least 10 jobs in the USA can apply for the EB-5 program. The investor visa program has a maximum capacity of 10,000 visas in a given year and successful petitioners are able to bring their immediate families, provided they are married and their children are under 21.
Though the EB-5 investor visa program is dogged by controversy, foreign nationals looking for a simple way to bring their families to the United States continue to apply in record numbers. The majority of applicants are Chinese nationals, who have received around 80 percent of the EB-5 visas awarded to date. The number of Chinese investors seeking an investor visa in the USA rose sharply through 2014, due to Canada abruptly closing a similar visa program for investors.
Investors interested in applying for EB-5 status can create their own business proposals or join regional EB-5 centers. The regional centers are authorized by the government to group foreign investments to support the projects that create jobs in the local area. Regional EB-5 centers account for approximately 95 percent of EB-5 visa funds. The requirements are different for solo applicants and those working through regional centers, but in both cases, a well-thought out applicant can obtain permanent resident status in the USA