Tags: CNN Money | Wealthy Chinese | Investor | Visas

CNN Money: Wealthy Chinese May Max Out US Investor Visas

By    |   Wednesday, 26 March 2014 02:30 PM

Surging interest from wealthy Chinese reportedly could overwhelm the U.S. immigrant investor visa program.

The EB-5 visa is issued to foreigners who are willing to invest $500,000 and create 10 U.S. jobs.

A decade ago, the Chinese accounted for only 13 percent of the applications. Now, they account for more than 80 percent, CNN Money says government data show.

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Or, to put it into better perspective — in 2004, Chinese nationals received 16 EB-5 visas. In 2013, that number rose to 6,900 visas.

This surge in demand could be problematic since only 10,000 immigrant-investor visas are issued each year. And that number includes the visas required for family members.

A total of 7,000 applications are currently pending, David Hirson, a partner at immigration-law firm Fragomen, tells CNN Money. If half of those are approved and the applicants move with a family of four, this year's allotment of EB-5 visas would be exhausted, he notes.

“There is a panic being created in China about the demand [getting] so big that there is going to be a visa waiting line,” said Bernard Wolfsdorf, founder of the Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group.

A green card offers [Chinese] a way to send their children to college, escape heavy pollution and enjoy an improved quality of life, Kate Kalmykov, an attorney with international law firm Greenberg Traurig told CNN Money.

“The U.S. remains the most attractive country for them, because of its freedoms and its ability to cater for individual needs, including the Chinese culture. It's a very comfortable transition physically,” Hirson noted.

Hirson says it's also cheap compared to the alternatives. To get a similar visa to Australia requires an investment of $4.5 million — nine times greater than a visa to the United States.

The appeal of a EB-5 visa is also boosted by the fact that Canada announced plans to scrap its immigrant-investor visas.

The Canadian program allowed investors to secure visas by agreeing to lend the government 800,000 Canadian dollars interest-free for five years.

According to Forbes, Canada's program had developed a reputation for being “a visa expressway for wealthy mainland Chinese.”

That perception was furthered by a report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, which revealed that among 59,000 pending applications, more than 45,000 were from mainland Chinese,  Forbes reports.

When the government announced intentions to end the program in February, the backlog was 65,000 applications, reports Canada's CBC.

Not only was the interest overwhelming, but immigrant investor program also appeared to be falling short of its objectives.

“This was not a program that was generating jobs, growth, opportunity in Canada and it was certainly not a program that was getting the immigrant investors we wanted,” CBC quoted Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander as saying.

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Surging interest from wealthy Chinese could overwhelm the U.S. immigrant investor visa program, says CNN Money.
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2014-30-26
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 02:30 PM
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