WASHINGTON, DC: Despite the enormous popularity of the EB-5 visa program among Chinese investors, and billions in foreign investment made to its implementation, the State Department is temporarily putting a halt on thousands of recent EB-5 visa applications from mainland China, putting it in retrogression, reported the Huffington Post.
The E-B5 program only has access to a finite number of visas each year and the system was designed to ensure that citizens from each country around the world would have a fair shot at an EB-5 visa. Due to the massive influx of Chinese E-B5 applications, the State Department and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are “exercising a form of crowd control” to give non-Chinese investors a better chance at obtaining a green card.
The anticipated retrogression of the EB-5 visa for Chinese nationals arrived on May 1, 2015, according to HuffPost. The State Department and USCIS commenced retrogression for EB-5 Chinese immigrant investors to May 1, 2013. Chinese investors who applied after that date have to wait till the retrogression goes away, or the date advances.
While Chinese EB-5 visa retrogression could be good for the program’s diversity statistics, it is unlikely that enough investors from other countries could hope to match current Chinese investment level if Chinese investors begin to turn elsewhere.
In an effort to reform the EB-5 program while protecting American economical interests, Congressman Polis (D-Colo.) and Congressman Amodei (R-Nev.) introduced H.R. 616 earlier this year, which seeks to solve many of the issues the EB-5 industry is facing.
One problem H.R. 616 fixes is the EB-5 cap, which limits the number of visas issued per country to 7 percent of the worldwide allotment.
“Currently, China is the only country that has neared this mark, thus a ‘hold’ on completing the permanent residence process has been imposed on Chinese nationals, despite strong demand among the Chinese to invest in the job creating program,” wrote Ali Jahangiri, CEO and publisher of EB5 Investors Magazine, with co-authors Enrique Gonzalez and Parisa Karaahmet. H.R. 616 looks to alleviate the problem by placing a 15 percent per year cap.
Another significant change proposed by Polis and Amodei is language in the bill that provides that “derivatives” — immigrants who are the spouse or child of the immigrant investor– no longer be counted towards the annual EB-5 visa allotment.
“In addition to providing immediate relief from an EB-5 waiting line, the removal of derivatives from the overall EB-5 visa limit would significantly increase the amount of investment made and American jobs created via the program, because each of the 10,000 visas would count towards an actual investor, rather than counting a visa towards each family member,” wrote Jahangiri.