Shai Zamanian for web
Shai Zamanian, Founder and Legal Director of The American Legal Center

With new changes to the United States EB-5 golden visa, Indian expats residing in the UAE and surrounding Gulf countries can now benefit from expedited processing of their US Green Cards.

What is the US Golden Visa?

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allows families residing in the GCC to obtain their US Green Cards through an investment of $800,000 in a qualifying government pre-approved real estate project. The EB-5 program was established by the US government in 1990 with the intent to inject foreign capital in the US economy and boost the creation of jobs for US persons.

Since its inception, the program has been an appealing immigration route for families residing in the GCC given the many benefits that a US Green Card unlocks, including but not limited to university education benefits for children. In exchange for their investment, a family is provided with US residency and Green Cards. A family, composed of the main applicant, spouse, and children under 21 years of age, can qualify under one investment application. The $800,000 investment is returned to the family after approximately five years.

The pursuit of the American dream, which is the promise of freedom and prosperity among other ideals, is the driving force behind families participating in the EB-5 program. With a Green Card in hand, families can freely live, work, and travel in the United States. A US Green Card provides a stable path to obtaining US citizenship and passports.

Recent reforms to the US Golden Visa

The EB-5 program was recently improved through passage of new legislation called the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) in March 2022. The new EB-5 legislation implemented a number of positive changes to this investment immigration program. The most relevant change for Indian residents in the GCC seeking to obtain their US Green Cards is the introduction of a new category of reserved US golden visas called visa set asides.

The RIA provides that of the 10,000 US golden visas available in each fiscal year, 10 per cent are reserved for applicants who invest in high unemployment areas, 20 per cent are reserved for applicants who invest in rural areas, and 2 per cent are reserved for applicants who invest in infrastructure projects. Simply put, there is no longer only one queue in which EB-5 investors line up to receive their US Green Cards.

There are now four separate queues: (1) investors falling under the unreserved visa category, (2) investors in high unemployment areas, (3) investors in rural areas, and lastly (4) investors in infrastructure projects. The latter three are reserved visa categories introduced by the new EB-5 legislation.

Historically, due to annual caps placed on each country, nationalities with large populations, such as Indians, were subject to retrogression. To date, under the previous category of unreserved visas, Indians face retrogression, which means that processing applications for this nationality are slowed down and backlogged due to the large number of applicants.

While there is a backlog for Indian applicants in the unreserved visas queue, Indian nationals residing in the GCC have a chance to receive their US golden visas without facing long wait times by being first in line in one of the other three queues, i.e., by applying under one of the reserved categories.

The November 2022 Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State shows that visas are currently available for all foreign investors that apply for the reserved visas and therefore there are no backlogs.

“In recent months, we have witnessed a surge in the number of Indian applicants demanding information on the new visa set asides as this new category is a saviour for Indian nationals looking to gain access to the US quickly,” says Shai Zamanian, Founder and Legal Director of The American Legal Center, the preeminent voice on the US golden visa. “By virtue of acting quickly and applying now, Indian applicants can be among the first in line in the new categories.”

Attend the seminar of The American Legal Center to learn more

As thought leaders in the EB-5 industry and having filed the most EB-5 applications out of the Gulf region, the team at The American Legal Center continues to educate the market on the US golden visa and its benefits by hosting complimentary educational seminars and one-on-one consultation sessions on a regular basis.

This team of US licensed lawyers and professionals is hosting their next seminar on Sunday, November 13 at the Address Sky View in Downtown Dubai at 3pm. To start your migration journey to the US, reserve your spot for the upcoming seminar by contacting +971 50 938 6092 or