Does a Golden Visa Tarnish?

According to CNN Money, America’s ‘golden visa’ is losing its luster in China. This is directly linked to the 2017 Ombudsman Report released by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) that stated that EB-5 investors from Mainland China now face a wait time of 10 years or longer to receive their immigrant visas. The EB-5 program has been a victim of it’s own success.  Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued per year and this fact, combined with the programs popularity, has created a large backlog which is known a “retrogression”.

The 10 year wait time is significant because it directly impacts the EB-5 investors decision to invest. Generally speaking, the EB-5 visa is seen as legacy planning tool in Mainland China – by investing and obtaining a visa, the investor’s child gains access to the US collegiate system. This worked good and fine as long as the visa was issued while the child was still a minor. But assuming a 10 year wait time, if the investment is made when the child is 15 then he/she will be 25 once the green card is approved. Therefore, the child would be disqualified from receiving a visa because they are over the age of 21.

The implication here is that this will greatly impact demand for the EB-5 visa until the issue of retrogression is resolved. Some in the EB-5 industry have pointed to the 120,000 unused visas per year as a way to alleviate the EB-5 backlog. But it’s not clear at this moment if this informal proposal will find ears on Capitol Hill.

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