Students Using Investor Visas
January 17, 2019
For international students seeking to study abroad in the United States and remain in the country after their school program ends, the EB-5 or Immigrant Investor Visa Program may be a viable option. Created by the Department of Homeland Security in 1990, the Immigrant Investor Visa Program seeks to bolster foreign investment and the creation of jobs in the United States. Up to 10,000 EB-5 visas may be granted each year.
Foreign Investment Requirement
To apply for an EB-5 visa, applicants must financially invest in a new commercial enterprise in the United States by making a substantial payment of at least $500,000. Applicants can invest directly into an American business or a regional center. The program defines regional centers as private companies or public economic units that pool foreign investments to promote economic growth. Over 90 percent of EB-5 visa holders invest in regional centers, which have been designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). There are over 1300 regional centers on the USCIS approved list. To qualify as an investment under the EB-5 program, the money must create or preserve at least 10 full time positions.
Less Restrictive Visa Status
Applicants who can afford to invest the required amount will obtain a less restrictive visa status with perks such as no restrictions on student employment. Unlike other types of student visas, such as the F-1 visa, the EB-5 visa allows student visa holders to work wherever and for as many hours as they wish. For many students hoping to remain in the country after completion of their education program, the ability to work at jobs in their field is an important advantage, particularly for those looking to break into the technology field.
Obtaining a Green Card with an Investor Visa
Another significant advantage for students using an investor visa to study in the United States is the ability to obtain a permanent residency card, or green card, as part of the investor visa program. For international students motivated to study in the United States because they ultimately want to become permanent residents, this can be an appealing option. EB-5 visa holders receive a green card valid for two years, which becomes permanent if the visa holder’s investment has successfully created or preserved the required 10 full-time jobs.
Criticism of the Program
Critics of the Immigrant Investor Visa Program believe the program has significant flaws in the way it is being monitored. With unclear oversight and the potential for corruption, many immigration experts question where the investor money is going by citing examples of it being used to pay back old loans or as collateral on new loans, rather than being used for job creation purposes. Several elected officials have voiced concerned over corruption with the program.
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