A bunch of foreign investors, several of them Indian citizen, who have sunk at least $500,000 under the EB-5 investor visa program, have filed a lawsuit with a US district court challenging the lapse of the ‘Regional Center Program’ and refusal by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process their visas.
Under the EB-5 program, individuals can apply for lawful permanent residence (green card) in the US if they make the necessary investments and create at least 10 permanent full time jobs for American workers. Investors need to invest $500,000 in a project in a rural area or an area of low employment, or $1 million otherwise.
While the direct investment route (where the investor sets up his/ her own business) continues to operate under the EB-5 program, the most popular route of investing via recognized regional centers (which in turn sponsor business entities) lapsed on June 30, 2021. Since then the investors have been caught in a limbo. Historically, 90% or more of the investments were made under the lapsed EB-5 Regional Center Program. The fear of possibly losing their investment, coupled with immigration plans going awry, is giving these investors sleepless nights.
In recent years, the EB-5 investor visa program had gained popularity among high net-worth individuals in India, and also from H-1B visa holders, working in the US. It offered a quicker route to obtaining a green card, as opposed to facing decades-long wait for employment-linked green cards.
Jonathan Wasden, partner at Wasden Banias, who is representing the plaintiffs told TOI, “The basic argument is that the government forgot to read its own statute, and created a lapse in the program where none should have existed.”
Under the EB-5 program, a step-wise procedure is laid out towards obtaining a green card. Initially investors are granted conditional permanent residence for themselves, spouse and children below 21 years of age. After two years of holding the conditional green card, they have to apply for lifting of the conditions. If approved, they get a green card and their family can permanently live and work in the US. In short, for Indian nationals, against a decades-long wait for an employment-linked green card, one under the EB-5 route can be obtained in approximately 10 years.
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Source: The Times of India (This content is not edited by My Golden Pass)