NEW DELHI: India, a topper after China in the list of foreign students studying in the US, may soon face difficulty in applying for an EB-5 immigrant investor programme. In fact, the demand for EB-5, which has emerged as a popular option with Indians amidst tight scrutiny over H-1B and H4 (dependent visa), is set to see a steep decline by nearly 80 per cent once the rules kick in.
In July, the United States hiked the minimum investment an immigrant needs to make to become a permanent resident. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a federal agency that looks at immigration, has increased the minimum investment criteria for an EB-5 Immigrant Visa programme to $900,000 from $500,000 in targeted employment areas, regions where unemployment rate is high, and to $1.8 million from $1 million for the rest of the US. This rule is effective from November 21, 2019 and is the first significant revision the agency has made since 1993, USCIS said in a statement.
“With the new rules kicking in, demand for Eb-5 visa will go down drastically to 10 per cent to 15 per cent,” said Abhinav Lohia, director, South Asia & The Middle East, CanAm Investor Services. The rise in minimum investment coupled with the persistent slowdown in the economy, particularly the real estate sector, will not only impact Indians living in India but only Indians living in the United States on H1B visa, he added.
Lohia also added that immigrants will now be careful with respect to their choice of regional center and projects. “Not many regional centers is likely to survive when the demand for EB-5 visa slows in a big market like India and other emerging markets,” he added.
Typically, visa retrogression occurs when the demand for a particular immigrant visa for a nation exceeds its availability. India is the third country after mainland China and Vietnam to have reached the limit of the quota, according to the US Visa bulletin for July 2019. From 2014 to 2019, the number of applications increased from 50 to 800 a year. The EB-5 backlog now dates back to 2015 and is likely to take five years to receive a visa. “While there may be some decline in demand, it is still an easy route to get a green card compared to the coveted H-1B route,” Lohia pointed out.