EB-5 Visa Demand Rises with H-1B Cutbacks

With the imposition of tighter rules on H-1B visas– those visas awarded to highly-skilled workers– foreign nationals look to another visa category as a potential option to gain entry to the United States. The cutbacks in H-1B visas translates to higher demand for visas slated to attract entrepreneurs and business investors– EB-5 visas.

EB-5 visas require no employer sponsorship or family support in order to gain approval.

The shift played out with a 17 percent increase– reaching 174– in EB-5 visas going to Indian nationals in the fiscal year 2017 over the previous year, according to CNNMoney, referencing State Department information. Since the start of the fiscal year 2018, 500 more applications for the visas have come in from the country for official review.

Receiving more than 70 percent of the H-1B visas awarded in recent years, Indian nationals now brace for a major decline in their receipt of the high-skilled visas. President Donald Trump makes no bones about his desire to see different set rules around the program with repeated criticism of the “program for flooding the United States with cheap foreign workers and taking jobs away from Americans, particularly in the tech sector.”

Other potential changes include increased application scrutiny to verify potential recipients of the H-1B visas possess skill sets beyond those found in the typical American workforce as well as a possible shortening of the visa period, reducing it from the current 3-year period. Reversing a rule that allows H-1B spouses to work in the United States is also under consideration.

EB-5 visas, sometimes referred to as the “golden visa,” require an investment from foreign nationals and the creation of 10 permanent, full-time jobs within the United States in order to gain green card eligibility. The current required investment level is $500,000, though active discussions by officials suggest the investment requirement could increase at some point over the next few months. Experts speculate the levels to rise anywhere between $900,000 and $1.35 million.

Up to now, Chinese nationals lead EB-5 recipients and account for literally thousands of applicants each year as these individuals account for more than 75 percent of the roughly 10,000 EB-5 visas thus far awarded. But because applications from countries accounting for more than 7 percent of the total EB-5 visas automatically move to a waitlist, green cards for Chinese applicants now take at least 10 years.

The mix of variables in terms of cost and wait times for other visas, some experts say, means that for many Indians, the current $500,000 investment requirement makes the EB-5 more attractive than other options