Immigrant families can receive permanent residence in the United States if they invest in a project called “EB-5,” which was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign shareholders. The project asks immigrants to invest $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 jobs in exchange for permanent residence in the U.S.-so long as the project succeeds.
Due to a struggling U.S. economy, EB-5 is driven largely by developers who are searching for new sources of funding for their projects. It is also fueled by rising demand from foreigners looking for access to U.S. schools and safe investment in U.S. enterprises. In some cases, like with the Dekker family, Dutch immigrants living in Michigan, the investment guarantees that they will stay together.
“We love our life here,” Judith Dekker told the Washington Post . “We have invested so much money because we want to live here in Michigan. And we don’t want to split up our family.”
The Dekkers have invested $500,000 in the Marriott Marquis Hotel rising in the District next to the Washington Convention Center. They’ll get five temporary green cards in November, and if the project succeeds, in two years they will be permanent residents of the United States.
The program has a large amount of bipartisan support in Congress, and negotiators from the Senate who are taking part in immigration reform talks have said they are leaning toward expanding visa programs that provide an immediate boost to the economy. On the other side, lawmakers argue that the EB-5 program is like buying citizenship, and that it unfairly allows wealthy foreigners to cut the visa line ahead of others who have waited for years.
Many feel that EB-5 will be a great boost for the nation’s economy due to the attraction of investments and the creation of jobs.
“If you get highly skilled, highly talented immigrants with money, who are paying and committing to things that are positive, I’m inclined to think it’s terrific,” former Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers told the Washington Post.