Chinese applicants drive increasing demand for US EB-5 visas

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

More than 80% of EB-5 visas are now issued to Chinese nationals, figures from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) show. The EB-5 investor visa allows entry of businesspeople to invest and start up businesses in the US.

Foreign nationals who invest from $500,000 and create (or preserve) 10 US jobs, can apply for a US permanent residence visa (or 'green card'). The spouse and dependent children under 21 can also gain residence in the US.

The total number of visas that can be issued in any one year is 10,000, inclusive of main applicants and their spouses and children. This cap has never been reached. But demand for the visa has been rising sharply in recent years driven by increased demand from wealthy Chinese citizens.

EB-5 eligibility

To qualify, applicants must;
  • Invest $1,000,000 in a US business or $500,000 if the business is in an area of High Unemployment or in a Rural Area.
  • Invest it in a 'commercial enterprise' and
  • Create or preserve 10 full-time jobs

Applicants are initially issued with a conditional permanent residence visa. If the business continues and jobs created, then the applicant can apply for full permanent residence. Thereafter, the applicant and his/her family have the right to remain in the US permanently.

In 2012-13, 6,900 visas were issued to Chinese nationals out of a total of 8,567 EB-5 visas issued. In 2014, the number of applicants is 50% higher than at the same period last year with the majority of the rise driven by Chinese applicants. It seems likely therefore, that this year, for the first time, the EB-5 cap will be reached.

Immigrant Investor Program

This is made more likely by the fact that Canada terminated its investor visa, the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) earlier this year. The program had already been suspended for several years. Canadian immigration minister Chris Alexander said that this was because of 'visa fraud'.

In order to qualify for a Canadian permanent residence visa under the IIP, applicants had to undertake to live in Canada after the visa is granted.

However, many Chinese nationals who were issued with IIP visas sent their wives and children to live in Canada, particularly in the western coastal city of Vancouver, while the main applicant continued to live and work in China.

Disappointed Canadian applicants may try EB-5

When the IIP was closed, it is believed that 65,000 people (25,000 applicants and their spouses and children) were waiting for visas. Some of those people will probably apply for EB-5 visas, increasing demand yet further.

Chinese applicants are also responsible for the majority of applications for investor visas in Europe. Recent figures from Portugal show that 80% of applicants for the Portuguese 'golden visa', were from China. The golden visa is an investment visa granting permanent residence to anyone buying property worth €500,000.

There are also large numbers of Chinese applicants for many other investor visas in Europe.

Growing number of Chinese migrants

Sanwar Ali of said 'the recent success of the Chinese economy means that there are a growing number of wealthy Chinese people with money to spare. Many of these are keen to get out of China and enjoy what the world has to offer.

'Many Chinese nationals have been disappointed by the recent closure of the Canadian Immigrant Investor Program. Luckily for them, there are many alternatives to the IIP, particularly in Europe. As a global immigration consultancy, we can help them'.

If you would like to apply for a visa can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with 25 years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.