BHUBANESWAR: There’s bad news for Indians seeking green cards or citizenship in the USA. With the number of Indian applications under EB-5 visa in the US set to breach the annual cap of 700 this year, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is considering a sharp hike in the EB-5 investment limits from the current USD 500,000 and USD 1 million later this year.
“With a visible shift of interest towards the EB-5 program, the number of applications is set to cross 1,000 this year, from less than 100 applications three years ago,” said Rogelio Caceres, co-founder and chief commercial officer of LCR Capital Partners, a US-based private investment firm that helps EB-5 applicants with investments. Caceres believes India would become a $100 million market for the EB-5 industry as per the US financial year –October 1, 2017 to September 31, 2018.
However, Caceres said that it is likely that the investment requirement will be raised from $500,000 to USD 1.35 million and the $1 million limit will be increased to $1.8 million. “With a hike in the minimum investment amount, India may cool off for a bit,” he noted.Introduced in 1990, the EB-5 visa programme allows entrepreneurs and their spouses (unlike the H1-B visas) as well as children under 21 to apply for a green card if their qualifying investments result in the creation or preservation of at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. However, there is a cap of 10,000 green cards that can be issued per year. It is worth mentioning that the approval for Indian applicants is 90 per cent, as against the global rate of 92.4 per cent.
Bonanza for investment firms
Globally, India is now the third largest market after China and Vietnam. Data from NES Financial, the largest fund administrator in the EB-5 industry, shows that the Chinese EB-5 investor market is currently 10 per cent of its size 18-24 months ago, owing to visa availability backlogs, while India is by far the fastest-growing market globally with market share of 18 per cent.
“With its explosive growth, India will likely be the No.2 source of EB-5 investments behind China, which is still far ahead in terms of EB-5 projects,” Caceres noted.Riding on the same, industry players are now shifting their focus towards building a clientele in India. The industry grew by 15 per cent and experts believe it is expected to maintain 15-20 per cent growth each year.
700 annual cap on number of Indian applications under EB-5 visa
USD 500,000 investment limit may go up to USD 1.35 million
USD 1 million limit may increase to USD 1.8 million