Sanwar Ali comment:
Because of the significant costs and long waiting time for the EB5 immigrant visa, some Indians are looking at gaining another citizenship such as citizenship of Grenada or Turkey to qualify under the E2 Treaty Investor visa scheme. While not cheap this is cheaper than the EB5 scheme and is much quicker. However, the E2 visa scheme is not the same as a “Green Card”.
In yet another blow to Indian nationals seeking entry to the US, it’s been confirmed that due to tax changes by the Indian Government, Indians will have to pay an extra $50,000 for the US EB5 investor visa. The news comes following a 2019 change to the US investor visa program, which saw the minimum investment increase for the first time since 1990, rising to $900,000.
The rise in the minimum investment amount means the new 5 per cent tax, amounts to $50,000, when investors transfer money to an escrow account in the US in order to fulfil the conditions of an EB5 investor visa application. The new 5 per cent tax on money transfers out of India to the US will begin on April 1, 2020.
Investors advised to move money before April 1 2020
Investment firms are urging Indians seeking entry to the US on an EB5 visa to move money into an escrow account prior to April 1, even if they have not yet filed an investor visa application.
In 2017, the number of EB5 visa applications reached record levels, with India ranking as the fourth largest beneficiary.
US green cards
However, the Trump administration has sought to clampdown on wealthy investors looking to buy their way into America, by increasing the minimum investment amount and changing other criteria.
The $50,000 increase for Indian EB5 visa applicants heaps further misery on citizens of India who already face waiting times spanning more than a decade to get their US green cards.
In May 2019, workpermit.com reported that more than 300,000 Indians alone were waiting for US permanent residency under the H1B visa program.
EB5 visa program needs reform
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has long insisted that the EB5 investor visa program needs reform. The program has been subject to a number of scandals in recent years, amid reports of fraudsters manipulating the system.
However, the EB5 visa program has led to billions of dollars being invested in the US and is an extremely popular immigration route that is constantly oversubscribed.
This latest change to US EB5 visa fees comes at a time when most visa categories in the US have seen restrictions tightened. In the run up to the US presidential elections on November 3, 2020 many immigrant advocates anticipate things getting worse for US visa applicants.
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