After H-1B Indians face new difficulties — getting  EB-5 business visa

India has reached retrogression for its investor visa EB-5 for the U.S. fiscal year 2018 (October-September) with the country utilizing the existing cap of 700 visas offered by the U.S. to every country.

Visa retrogression occurs when the demand for a particular immigrant visa for a nation exceeds its availability as has been the case with India.

According to a report in the Hindu newspaper and other media outlets India is the third country after mainland China and Vietnam to have reached the limit of the quota, going by the US Visa bulletin for July 2019.

A total of 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued every year with the limit capped at 700 per country. An EB-5 visa holder, who gets a green card, can choose any kind of work in the US.

Reports said an estimated 1,000-plus high net worth individuals of Indian origin filed EB-5 visa application last year to move to the US.

EB-5 visa, which is one of the five employment-based (EB) preference programmes in the U.S., is for those who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

An EB-5 applicant is required to invest $500,000 in a commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 U.S. jobs. In return, the applicant can get a green card in one-and-half to two years. The money is returned to the investor after a certain period of time.

Better education and career prospects for children is an important reason why Indians opt for the EB-5 visa.

The additional delay due to retrogression is not covered under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), said Vivek Tandon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at EB-5 BRICS, an EB-5 visa consultancy firm, was quoted as saying in the news reports.

“Thus, Indians will have to either apply when the child is young or plan for a separate EB-5 investment for children who may age out,” he added.

The Visa retrogression comes amidst tight scrutiny over H-1B and H4 visa and the ongoing trade war between the two countries.

Rogelio Caceres, Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder at US-based LCR Capital Partners was quoted as saying by Hindu June 26 that it is for the first time in the history of this program that India has reached the quota’s limit.

“The demand from India came from Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad as Indians know the value of green card as there are many Indian-Americans already in the US excelling in multiple domains such as technology, medicine, engineering and business among others,” Caceres was quoted as saying.

There is a rise in the demand for EB-5 visas from Asian countries. China and India, the two toppers in the list of foreign students studying in the U.S., have been opting for the EB-5 immigrant investor program owing to stricter regulations on other visa categories such as H-1B and H-4.

EB-5 service providers claim, according to a Business Today report, that at least 30-40% Indians are turning from H-1B and L-1 visas to EB-5.

Tandon said that “Indians face a longer waiting period for the EB-5 visa. From existing 2-3 years, India born nationals may face an additional waiting period of 4-5 years due to retrogression or visa backlog, which means a total 6-8-year wait for a green card.”

He said the additional delay due to retrogression is not covered under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).

“Thus, Indians will have to either apply when the child is young or plan for a separate EB-5 investment for children who may age out,” he added.

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