Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Congress, Biden Reauthorize EB-5 Visas for Mostly Wealthy Chinese Nationals; House Omnibus Bill Resurrects EB-5 Investor Visa Program, with Reforms

Keith Tsuji/Getty Image
Congress, Biden Reauthorize EB-5 Visas for Mostly Wealthy Chinese Nationals:
President Joe Biden and members of Congress reauthorized a little-known program that peddles United States visas, and eventually naturalized American citizenship, to China’s wealthy real estate investors.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a government funding bill late last week, later signed by Biden, that renews the EB-5 visa program where wealthy foreign nationals can claim to invest at least $800,000 in U.S. development projects and receive green cards for themselves and their family members with eventual pathways to citizenship.
Most significantly, the program is a boon to China’s elite who secure green cards to the U.S. for themselves and their families under the guise of investing in U.S. real estate. For years, China’s elite have taken the bulk of EB-5 visas.
When the program lapsed in June 2021, about 80,000 foreign nationals — most of whom are from China — had their green card processing halted.
Included in the bill, though, are a number of reforms pushed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Specifically, the Grassley-Leahy reforms include annual reporting requirements to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a prohibition on foreign nationals implicated in fraud and foreign government officials from receiving EB-5 visas. --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool
House omnibus bill resurrects EB-5 investor visa program, with reforms:
The mammoth House omnibus bill that passed the chamber on Wednesday included provisions to resurrect the EB-5 investor visa program -- although coupled with significant reforms to a program that has been dogged by concerns of fraud and abuse, including by Chinese nationals.
The EB-5 investor visa program allowed foreign investors to obtain residency, leading to fears on both sides of the aisle that it amounts to a dollars-for-residency scheme, and raised national security concerns about the use of the program by the Chinese Communist Party. Most of the investors who have used the program came from China or other parts of Asia.
The program typically required an investment of $1 million, but that could be as low as $500,000 in areas classified as high poverty, and the creation of 10 jobs. In return an investor would be given green cards for not just them, but also their families. That in turn puts them on a track to citizenship.
Prior efforts to reform in both the Obama and Trump administrations had failed. But the new nearly 3,000 page omnibus includes provisions first introduced in legislation by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to reform the program.
That legislation was blocked last year and the funding for the EB-5 program expired and has since been dormant. But in a rare bipartisan instance of successful immigration reform, the visa program will be resurrected with a slew of significant reforms from the Grassley-Leahy legislation -- after real-estate groups agreed to the reforms after watching the program lie dormant for a year. --->READ MORE HERE
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