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Visa program may benefit Pennsylvania immigrants

A visa program established in 1990 has helped bring about economic improvement in many troubled areas. Investor-based visa applications are on the rise. However, many Americans are still somewhat unaware of this option that provides a means for permanent residency. Before this legislation was passed, employment-based visa categories were limited to certain types of exceptionally skilled people, such as artists, scientists with advanced degrees and migrant workers. The most recent category is designed with investors in mind.

These immigration documents for investors are called EB-5 visas. Under this visa program, investors must focus their efforts on urban or rural projects in at-risk areas. Depending upon the area, they must also invest at least $500,000 and their efforts must produce at least 10 full-time jobs. Although applications for this program have increased, the Brookings Institute estimates that they account for less than 3 percent of employment-based visas.

Employment immigration can be very beneficial not only for immigrants but also for the communities they move to. In many cases, foreign business professionals have specialized skills that are in demand in certain areas. The demand for these skills might not otherwise be filled by the local workforce. A foreign investor with the right skills and experience can make a major difference.

Because there are many visas that allow immigrants to work in the U.S., it is important to make sure that the right one is selected to avoid serious delays. It might seem overwhelming for investors to sort through all of the relevant laws and regulations on their own. Consulting with an attorney is a better way to help ensure that the application process is handled properly.

Source: Citylab, "America's Booming Pay-to-Stay Visa Program Still Has Tons of Room to Grow", Kriston Capps, July 28, 2014

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