Sanwar Ali on EB5 Immigrant Investor visa costs to double Nov

By Sanwar Ali

The minimum investment amount for the US EB5 Green Card will almost double from $500,000 to $900,000 for areas of higher unemployment called Targeted Employment Area TEA, which is by far the most popular for investors.  In other areas not covered by TEA the amount will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million.  This is the only change in the investment amount since 1993, which is more than twenty-five years ago.  In fact this is the only significant change that has ever been made since the program was introduced in 1990, and takes into account inflation over almost thirty years.  The changes will take effect from 21 November 2019.  Yet another US visa scheme that will become more difficult under President Trump.

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be implementing the changes to the EB5 immigrant investor visa scheme.  It is claimed that the system needs to be reformed.  From now on the investment amount will change every five years in line with inflation. 

EB5 Green Card Scheme huge success

The EB5 immigrant visa scheme has led to many billions of dollars of investment into the US, that may not otherwise have happened.   The change in the investment amount will not lead to the quota not being filled. There is huge demand for the EB5 investor scheme with the scheme constantly oversubscribed.  In fact there is a fifteen year waiting list in China for the EB5 immigrant investor visa scheme.

There have been some scandals from time to time with fraudsters becoming involved in the EB5 scheme.  However, most schemes have been genuine and have benefitted the US and Green Card Applicants.

EB5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center schemes most popular

The vast majority of EB5 Green Card visas are under the Regional Center schemes.   This requires an investment of $500,000 over five years provided by the investor for little or no interest.  Perhaps these TEA schemes, which will in future need to be approved by DHS, will not be so attractive to investors in future.  The new schemes will be decided directly by the USCIS of the Department of Homeland Security instead of by individual US States.  EB5 visas where the investor invests in their own business for $1 million are not so popular.  This is despite the fact that the fees charged for Regional Center schemes are quite significant.

Other Green Card Schemes as an alternative to EB5 Investor visa

In some circumstances it may be worth considering the EB1C immigrant visa as an Executive or Manager.  There is no investment requirement as such.  For a Management level person being transferred to the US which includes business owners this is a much cheaper option.  You need to have an office with staff in the US for at least one year, and have worked for the business outside the US for at least one year in the last three years.  Many people first enter as an L1 visa manager and then at a later date apply for an EB1C Green Card.

US Green Card and Tax Issues

For some wealthy people there may be concerns about tax on Worldwide income for US lawful permanent residents (“Green Cards”) and US citizens.  Before taking things further it may be an idea to seek tax advice.  The current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was born in New York renounced his US citizenship.

If relevant, for some investors the E2 Treaty Investor visa scheme may be worth looking at.  This visa can continue to be extended indefinitely.   However, it is not as convenient as having lawful permanent residence.   Indian, Chinese, Russian, South African nationals and nationals of many other Countries around the World are unable to come under the E-2 or E-1 Treaty Trader visa scheme.  At the same time many nationals can gain entry under the E2 or E1 visa scheme.

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