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EB5 visa to US gains in popularity, but new norms on anvil may play spoilsport

V. Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on June 20, 2019 Published on June 20, 2019

Higher qualifying amount, longer processing time may prove major hurdle

Farmers from Gujarat, entrepreneurs, owners of family-owned businesses, professionals, CXOs, and surprisingly, bureaucrats are among applicants for an EB5 visa to the US.

One of the key drivers for some Indian applicants seeking the EB5 visa — which has been designed to attract capital investment into the US — is the chance to educate their children in the country; for many others, it is the opportunity to build a business and/or to settle down there, Vivek R Rao, Director-India of the Maryland Center for Foreign Investment LLC, said.

Rao added: “It is heartening to know that even farmers are applying for these visas. These farmers have received a good compensation from land acquisition during the construction of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor.”

He told BusinessLine that the Trump administration has hinted at bringing about changes in the EB5-visa norms, and this could have a far-reaching impact on applicants.

Tightening conditions

There are indications that starting October 2019, the qualifying investment on a property in the US is expected to go up from $500,000 to $1.35 million. Given the Reserve Bank of India’s norms with regard to the amount that can be sent abroad in a year, the visa may well become a unrealisable dream, he cautioned.

Rao said of the 10,000 EB5 visas granted per year, there is a cap of 7 per cent for any country, and Indians have already hit the mark.

However, there is a provision for more people to apply, with their applications carried forward with the same terms and conditions.

He also said that the time taken for processing the visa may go up from 24-27 months to possibly 48-50 months, further harming the interests of those seeking to apply.

Describing EB5 as a business gateway to the US, , Rao said: “This is an alternative way for some wealthy Indians to live their American dream. Those who otherwise do not have a chance to get an American Green Card find it a good option, as it enables people to migrate to the US through a government-sponsored ‘invest in the US and get a Greed Card’ scheme.”

For Indian businessmen and professionals interested in investing in the US, any major policy change could adversely impact prospects, he said.

The EB5 gained attention after the H1-B came under the lens of the Trump administration. The H1-B was the top priority, but with the norms getting tougher, the EB5 is being considered by many professionals, he said.

Published on June 20, 2019
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