Half a year’s visa data shows that the EB-5 program, after a pronounced drop, is showing signs of revival. The main part of the controversial immigrant investor program was reduced to a shadow of its former self as Congress postponed its re-authorization until it could pass reform legislation, which it did last spring.
The congressional ceiling for the program is just under 10,000 visas a year, with a visa being issued for each alien, not for each investment. An alien placing $800,000 or more in a USCIS-approved investment gets a conditional green card for herself, her spouse, and her children under the age of 21. If all goes well, the conditions on the card are removed after two years.
The program, for years, has been dominated by Chinese investors, some of them being defrauded by U.S. middlemen in the program.
The visa cap, when divided by 12 months in the year, means that about 830 visas can be produced each month without piercing the overall ceiling; that measure was met in March of this year. The EB in the program relates to the fact that it is the fifth and lowest ranking of the five employment-based programs for would-be green card holders.
Here are the EB-5 visa issuances for the program for the first six months of this fiscal year:
Source: U.S. Department of State’s
“Monthly Immigrant Visa Issuance Statistics”
for the months listed; the tabulations are by CIS.
Note the relatively stable numbers for the rest of the world and the widely fluctuating ones for China. This relates not to varying levels of interest in the program; rather, it reflects the State Department’s struggle with a large backlog of Chinese applicants and the complex workings of country-of-origin national ceilings both for Chinese migration, generally, and for Chinese use of this program, specifically. No nation is to get more than 7 percent of a migration stream, but there are, under some circumstances, other provisions.
Will the nearly 10,000 ceiling for EB-5 be reached again this fiscal year? If the rate of increase in these six months continues, that would be possible.