The Immigration Act of 1990 created the EB-5 Program to provide visas for immigrants who were willing and able to invest in commercial enterprises in America.
Though there have been some changes to the program, it now generates billions of dollars in foreign investments. Eligible investors are granted conditional permanent resident status for two years. If all requirements of the EB-5 program are met within two years of becoming a permanent resident, the government removes the conditions of residency and allows the investor, along with any dependents, to become an unconditional permanent resident.
The U.S. government placed a cap on the EB-5 program, allowing no more than 10,000 EB-5 Visas per year. In addition, at least 3,000 of these visas are set aside for regional center investors. While there are no specific limits on how many visas can be issued within individual countries, under the wording of the statute, no country is technically allowed to use more than 7.1% of all available EB-5 Visas each year. However, if a country uses less than their allotted percentage, the remaining visas are generally made available for investors from other countries.
This is the situation that is currently unfolding with EB-5 Visas issued to Chinese immigrants. Chinese nationals have not only oversubscribed their per-country quota, but they have exhausted every other country’s quotas as well creating a backlog for EB-5 immigrant visas. In 2014, Mainland China far surpassed any other country, with more than 8,000 EB-5 Visas issued. This is an incredible increase from the 16 EB-5 Visas granted to Chinese investors in 2004. The second leading country was South Korea, receiving 162 visas in 2014. Venezuela came in at number eleven, with thirty visas and Kuwait rounded out the top twenty with eight visas granted.
In 2014 and 2015, the overwhelming demand for EB-5 Visas by Chinese investors caused the program to hit its annual limit prior to the end of the fiscal year. There are currently over 22,000 EB5 petitions filed and pending with USCIS and over 88% of those petitions were filed by Chinese nationals.
Applying for an EB-5 Visa
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