'Immigrant investors' follow a path to citizenship
Monday, June 11, 2012 10:28 AM
Thousands of wealthy foreigners are lining up to make investments in the United States and place themselves on a path to citizenship in the process, CNNMoney reported.
The U.S. State Department expects to issue more than 6,000 "investor visas" in the current fiscal year, which would be an all-time record.
"Our goal is certainly job creation, and that's what this program is all about," said Bill Wright, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "At the same time, it's allowing somebody from a foreign country to come and invest in our nation."
Under the government's EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, foreign investors can get conditional visas that allow them and their families to live, work and attend school in the United States.
To qualify for the visa, they must invest at least $1 million in a new or recently created business, or $500,000 for businesses in rural or high-unemployment areas.
The investment must be demonstrated to have created or preserved at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years. Assuming this condition is met, investors and their families graduate to permanent resident status and can apply for full citizenship three years later.
Though the EB-5 program has been around since 1990, demand has been surging as of late, fueled in large part by China's growing elite, who accounted for 70 percent of the roughly 3,500 investor visas issued last year.
The State Department expects the program's quota of 10,000 visas per year, which includes visas given to the spouses and children of investors, to be filled for the first time ever within the next year or two.