Many Indian citizens with the goal of relocating to the U.S. are faced with procedural hurdles that increase the difficultly of living and working in the U.S. Students applying for H-1B visas are subject to an H-1B lottery with poor odds, forcing them to return home at the end of their Optional Practical Training period. Those lucky enough to make it through the lottery and have an employer willing to sponsor them for a green card face massive backlogs in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories creating a decade long wait. The EB-5 program presents a number of solutions to these issues.
The EB-5 program offers permanent residency to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 into a U.S. business that creates 10 full-time jobs for American workers. The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are also eligible to receive green cards through the same investment. Each investor must prove that the funds used to invest in the EB-5 project originated from a lawful source.
Here are five reasons why EB-5 may be an attractive option:
- No EB-5 backlog for persons chargeable to the Indian quota. Even with current processing times, Indian citizens can expect to have a green card in approximately 2 years, which is significantly shorter than the EB-2 or EB-3 preference categories.
- No employer sponsorship required. The Trump administration has expressed intent to restrict the H-1B program which would further limit an already oversubscribed program. Without the need for sponsorship, foreign nationals are more attractive to U.S. employers and enjoy greater freedom of career movement.
- No education, experience, or language requirement. While the EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories require certain levels of education and work experience, EB-5 is available to students, recent graduates, or even retirees, regardless of their credentials.
- In-state tuition. As a permanent resident, many students are eligible for in-state tuition at public universities. In-state tuition rates are often significantly cheaper than the full tuition rate normally charged to foreign nationals.
- The EB-5 Regional Center program is set to expire on September 30, 2017. Although we expect the Regional Center program to be reauthorized again as it has been many other times in the program’s 25+ year history, both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have proposed a number of changes to the program. While there are several proposed bills in Congress to extend the program, all of them propose to raise the minimum amount to $800,000. Similarly, the proposal from DHS, which does not require Congressional action, proposes to raise the minimum amount to $1.35 million. Therefore, it may be more expensive to apply through the EB-5 program in the near future.
Also, since India is only entitled to 7% of the 9,940 available EB-5 visas (695), and there has been a surge of filings from Indian citizens, many believe India could have a waiting line by Fiscal year 2020, which starts October 2019. Only about 300 Indian families are eligible to immigrate annually under the current quota so with this surge of interest, Indian nationals considering EB-5, would be wise to file before September 30, 2017.
Given the unique immigration challenges many Indian citizens face, the EB-5 program may offer a unique opportunity for those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. For more information about the EB-5 program or any other immigration options, please contact us.