Over the past decade, the number of approved applications for EB-5 visas has increased dramatically, according to Bloomberg. EB-5 visas give immigrants the opportunity to become U.S. citizens if they invest at least $500,000 in a business and employ at least 10 people. Foreign-natives are asked to invest in areas that are rural or have high unemployment rates..
The number of green cards “purchased” by foreign investors increased from 69 in 2002 to 3,677 in 2012. During that same time period, immigrant visas increased from 389,157 to 482,300. Since the EB-5 program was established, more than $6.8 billion was generated from U.S. investments and more than 49,300 jobs were created. Expanded plans for investor visas were included in the immigration reform proposal released on January 29.
“Taking a job from an American is not an issue here,” Edward Alden, a senior fellow specializing in visa and immigration policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Bloomberg. “If you look at investment in the U.S. economy over the past decade, it’s been fairly weak. Anything you can do to strengthen investment, even at the margins, is valuable.”
However, individuals who are not investing in the United States economy are forced to wait decades for green cards. Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said that its immigration package will include a plan to speed up the process for the undocumented population who want to gain U.S. citizenship, according to Talking Points Memo.
Currently, the administration is planning to work through backlogs of applicants, but the legal process and quotas have kept the process moving slowly. Expanding the green card process would provide a more reliable, streamlined path for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrations to gain.