No More EB-5 Visas for Chinese Nationals – For a Month

There will be no more immigrant investor (EB-5) visas for Chinese nationals for the next month, the government has announced – then a fresh supply will come into play.

The Obama administration has been hyping this program for years and the number of applicants has finally bumped into the statutory ceiling. Since immigration law has ceilings within ceilings, only Chinese investors will be given a “time out” this time around; investors from other nations are still being granted visas.

The EB-5 program allows an alien investor who places $500,000 into a Department of Homeland Security-approved (but not guaranteed) investment to obtain a set of conditional resident cards for the entire family if the stake appears to produce 10 U.S. jobs. Should all go well, these cards can be converted to green cards at the end of two years. (All does not always go well, however, as we note below and have reported earlier.

This is only a momentary setback for the nervous rich Chinese who have been snapping up these visas. A fresh set of 10,000 – not all for the Chinese – will become available at the start of the next fiscal year, October 1, 2014. Immigration lawyers who profit from the program worry that more significant backups will be created in the future.

For all the wondrous complexities of the most recent developments, see these two articles on the situation fromImmigration Daily here and here.

The program has been a controversial one for two basic reasons: 1) a number of us think it is bad public policy to sell visas to anyone, whatever the price, and the price in the United States is much lower than it is in many other countries; and 2) lots of questionable players, some of them U.S. citizens, have been attracted to the apparently easy money of the program. What’s more, many aliens have lost, if not their shirts, at least their pot of half million dollars in failed EB-5 projects, as Fortune magazine reported in a recent cover story on “The dark, disturbing world of the visa-for-sale program“.

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