Over the last decade, Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programs have become increasingly popular amongst investors in the Middle East, India, Africa, and East Asia. Donations and investments have provided individuals all over the world the unique opportunity to obtain a new residency and passport for the full family. These acquisitions of new residencies and passports happen for a variety of reasons, including, future planning for the family, children’s education, or ease of global travel. The geographic location an individual will choose for investment will depend on these goals and the budgeted investment amount.
However, global residency and citizenship by investment programs have undergone numerous changes recently. Last year, we saw some countries like Canada, remove Caribbean countries off their visa-free travel lists due to security and due diligence concerns as many people rushed to “purchase” a Caribbean passport for prices as low as $100,000 USD.
Grenada and Turkey have also been popular Citizenship by Investment passports, which also allow access to the US via the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Those nationals who do not fall under the US Treaty List (a short list of countries) have purchased Grenada or Turkish passports so they could participate in the E-2 Visa Program, as both these countries happen to be on the US Treaty List. The United States government has recently announced it will require individuals holding Grenada and Turkish Passports to prove actual residency in Grenada or Turkey for minimum three years before being eligible for the E-2 Investor Visa.
Two weeks ago, Ireland canceled its Citizenship by Investment Program, which required an investment amount of EUR 1 Million in either real estate or a real estate fund. A few days later, Portugal announced it will also end its Golden Visa Program in an effort to normalize inflated real estate prices which have dramatically increased due to large numbers of foreign investors.
Greece has also announced that it will raise its Golden Visa investment amount from EUR 250,000 to EUR 500,000. Economies have improved and adequate amounts of money have come into these nations via foreign investment. Therefore, these countries will now make it more difficult to obtain citizenship via a simple investment.
United States EB-5 Program: Residency By Investment
The US EB-5 Program has also come under many changes over the last year, but most that benefit future investors. In addition, the US congress has legislated EB-5 Reforms and Integrity Act 2022 which will regulate the program over the next five years with same regulations and policies, thus providing utmost certainty to potential applicants. The US government has announced the program will remain as it is for at least the following 5 years.
The US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was enacted by the US Congress in 1990 to stimulate economic growth through job creation and foreign investment. Under EB-5, the qualified investor, the investor’s spouse, and children under the age of 21 receive permanent residency status also known as a Green Card. The applicant must invest $800,000 in an EB-5 project that will create 10 jobs for US workers, thus contributing to the local economy.
The process of immigrating to the United States can be complicated and once one reached the country the herculean task of securing immigration rights becomes a daunting challenge. Of all other visa types, the EB-5 Green Card gives a permanent opportunity to families, students, and employees to live, study and work in the US.
After holding the Green Card for 5 years, each family member (together or individually) can then go on to obtain US Passports and Citizenship.
Why international students should consider the EB-5 visa?
What can be better than getting a hassle-free visa for higher studies in the US and not being worried about sponsorship and future job opportunities? Obtaining a green card through the EB-5 program may be the solution.
The US is known for having prestigious universities allowing students to receive qualifications recognized around the world. It is a destination immensely popular amongst students in the region aspiring to obtain higher education from esteemed schools and universities.
The EB-5 Green Card carries many benefits for both the student and the parents. Considering applying for a green card before the child moves to the US will allow the student to travel freely, work on and off campus without restriction, obtain valuable internships with top US companies, apply for postgraduate programs and training, and work anywhere in the country during his/her studies. US permanent residents and citizens are also given priority in terms of admissions to some of the most coveted programs and schools across the United States.
Parents will also unlock various financial benefits such as reduced in-state and domestic tuition rates, and access to financial aid and scholarships. The resident tuition rates are at times one-fourth that of international tuition rates. A family may save $130,000 or more on tuition for one child in a four-year bachelor program. This benefit is even more lucrative for families with more than one child who may want to go to the US for post-secondary education or multiple degrees. Most of all it will offer the child the ability to stay in the US after graduation without restrictions. Newly-graduated students won’t have to worry about sponsorship for jobs under the H1-B Visa scheme or renewing their visas.
EB-5 provides job security when compared to H1-B Visas
The United States of America is often touted as one of the best places for tech and startup companies and so many individuals, including Indians, were able to find jobs in world-renowned tech firms such as Google and Apple, through the H1-B process. The H1-B process allows those foreign employees with a US employer sponsor to obtain a long-term work visa in the United States. The H1-B Visa is also known as a dual-intent visa, meaning it can eventually translate into US permanent residency and eventual Citizenship.
However, the H1-B Visa also comes with its own share of restrictions. Among these are that many H1-B workers feel tied to their employers for many years with little upward career movement or financial gain as employers often take advantage of their position as a sponsor. With more layoffs across the tech industry, it’s a very frustrating time for these skilled workers who have made a life for themselves and their family in the US.
Once on an H1-B Visa, an employee only has a limited time of 60 days between jobs before having to leave the country. Therefore, the constant fear of layoffs lingers. In addition, although the H1-B visa is dual intent, the popularity of this visa has caused extremely long wait times (sometimes up to 10-15 years) to finally obtain the US Green Card and be on the way to Citizenship.
To overcome these restrictions, the US EB-5 visa program may be the answer, especially for those who don’t want to be at the mercy of an employment sponsorship scheme anymore. The EB-5 Program provides a much quicker route to a US Green Card which is often processed in an average of only 24 to 36 months.
In addition, as of March 2022, the US government has announced that anyone already presents in the US on a valid visa status (such as an H1-B) can adjust their status from within the United States. This is called Adjustment of Status concurrent filing. A lion’s share of new EB-5 applications since 2022 have been from H1-B and L-1 visa holders already in the US due to this new option which is attractive because it gives the employee the ability to legally stay in the US and maintain their life, their family, and friends without having to return to their home country while waiting for the approval of their initial EB-5 application.
Adjustment of Status Concurrent Filing allows the investor to obtain an Employment Authorization Document and Travel Document which frees them from their previous employer sponsorship and allows them to work anywhere, for any US employer, including starting their own business.
Looking for an EB-5 Green Card? Attend a Step Global seminar
The Dubai-based immigration firm Step Global is hosting a free informative seminar on the EB-5 Green Card Program on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at 4 PM (UAE time) at JW Marriott Hotel, Business Bay, Dubai, UAE. One of the leading Regional Centers in the EB-5 industry which has a robust track record of green card approvals and repayment will be present. During this session, our immigration lawyers will take attendees through the entire process of the US EB-5 Residency & Passport Program and answer all questions. The Regional Center will discuss their latest projects in the Set Aside and Reserved categories which already have completed substantial construction and therefore have job creation in place, offering additional security for EB-5 applicants.
About Step Global
Step Global is a leading immigration firm in the UAE and the MENA region, headed by Managing Director Preeya Malik, who herself is an award-winning US immigration lawyer and renowned expert in the EB-5 program. Preeya Malik was one of the first EB-5 experts to enter the region 10 years ago and has greatly contributed to bringing attention to the EB-5 program and its benefits across the GCC, Middle East, India, and Africa. Step Global along with its legal team have helped hundreds of applicants and their families to migrate to the U.S. under the EB-5 program with one of the highest track records of approvals in this region.
The seasoned team at Step Global represents and safeguards clients’ interests throughout the entire process. Over the years the firm has built a strong network of world-renowned EB-5 attorneys and experts in order to deliver the highest level of services to their clients while following top industry standards. They offer exclusive residential, hospitality, energy, rural, and infrastructure projects by partnering with the EB-5 industry’s best Regional Centers which also have a strong track record of green card approvals and full repayment of funds to their past investors over a series of years.