Senate bill that calls for ending EB-5 program triggers huge spike in investor visa applications from India: law firm

“Proposed increase in H1-B minimum another reason for the increase.”

An immigration law firm that represents Indian investors has reported “a record breaking spike” in the number of Indians applying for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program this year.

The sudden spurt in the green card application is because of a bipartisan bill, introduced in the US Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), that calls for an end to the EB-5 program.

The program allows anyone that invests anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in the United States and creates at 10 full-time jobs to qualified American workers to apply for  green cards. The major beneficiaries of the program, which awards roughly 10,000 EB-5 visas annually, are Chinese investors. According to one study, as many as 85 percent of such visas issued in 2014 went to Chinese investors.

The bill was introduced in the Senate on January 24. In a joint statement the two senators termed the EB-5 program as “inherently flawed.” They said: “It says that U.S. citizenship is for sale. It is wrong to have a special pathway to citizenship for the wealthy while millions wait in line for visas.”

“This is the first time we have seen a Bill to completely end the EB-5 program,” said Mark Davies, Global Chairman of Davies & Associates, LLC, which represents a number of Indian EB-5 investors, in a press release. “While we feel it unlikely that S. 232 will pass, the Regional Center EB-5 program is due to end at the end of April 2017 anyway unless extended by Congress. If the EB-5 program is extended in April there is a much higher chance than ever before that the investment requirement will be substantially increased in the near future.”


EB-5 visa investment amount hiked to $1.35 million – $1.8 million minimum (January 13, 2017)
Column: US Congress must remove country-based caps on EB-2 and EB-3 visas, help skilled Indian immigrants (January 5, 2017)
New H-1B reform bill proposing twofold hike in minimum wage introduced in House of Representatives (January 31, 2017)

Davies & Associates associate did not quantify the increase in the number of petitions.

The firm says, apart from concerns about the future of the program, “clients are also flocking to the EB-5 program given the increase in the H1-B salary requirements in the H1-B Reform Bill.”

A bill that was introduced recently proposes to increase the minimum salary for H-1B workers to a whopping $130,000.

The firm says that bill “would place the H1-B program beyond the reach of most Indian students graduating in the US and force them to use the EB-5 program in order to obtain long-term US employment.”

Davies says, by filing an I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur petition before April, many “before April clients are trying to protect themselves from either the termination of the program or a substantial increase in the required capital.”

He added: “Given the likely H1-B salary hike, some clients are rushing to use this window to insure their children are well equipped to pursue post-graduation employment in the US.”

A discussion document circulated by the US government suggested increasing the minimum investment requirement to $1.3 million if the program is kept alive.

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