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Concerns raised over EB-5 immigration visas

As any regular reader of this blog knows, there are two very different types of immigration categories: family based immigration and employment-based immigration. While most of the employment-based visas require an immigrant to have a job offer lined up prior to applying for a visa, this is not always mandatory. One visa, the EB-5, allows wealthy investors to commit a certain amount of money to creating a business in the U.S. in exchange for a visa. And, since it is a permanent residency visa, these investors will be given green cards and, should they want it, citizenship.

Although the program sounds great, especially since it comes with a 10-job-per-visa requirement, some people take issue with the program. One of the concerns is that the program hasn't been adequately updated since 1990.

According to the individual who first set up the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services fraud detection and national security office, the investment minimum is no longer sufficient to really justify the program. Under the terms of the visa, an investor must promise at least $500,000, but that really isn't enough to fund a business and the 10 jobs that must come along with it.

Although the government is in the habit of pooling smaller investments and the 10-job minimum can include indirect jobs, the former USCIS employee has said that it would make more sense for the government to reform the progam and look for truly wealthy investors.

Though many people in Lancaster think of immigration reform as creating pathways to citizenship or reforming how we admit recent higher-education graduates into the country, this is just another aspect of reforming the U.S. immigration system. Whether Congress will actually address EB-5 investment visas, however, remains to be seen.

Source: The Washington Times, "Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program," Shaun Waterman, Dec. 12, 2013

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