America’s EB-5 investor visa program that gives permanent US residency to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 is set to expire on September 30, with no clear path for the program’s renewal after proposed reform measures stalled in the US congress last week.
While originally devised to create jobs and economically depressed areas, the 26 year-old program has lately helped fund the Trump Bay Street, a luxury condo project in Jersey City being built by Donald Trump’s son-in-law and bearing the name of the US presidential candidate and immigration opponent. And Trump is not alone in their interest in the program, as EB-5 has become a major source of cheap financing for developers in Manhattan and other areas of the country.
Limited to 10,000 immigrant visas annually, the EB-5 program has been dominated by Chinese investors recently, with mainland citizens accounting for 85 percent of EB-5 visa applications in 2013, according to official figures. The program reached its 10,000 visa capacity for the first time in 2014.
Reform Proposals Run Aground
While the EB-5 program was intended to provide a path to residency for investors who create jobs in the US, the visas for cash arrangement has also spawned some noteworthy cases of fraud, as well as accusations that the funds invested are flowing into areas with already healthy economies.
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