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EB-5 Visa Backlog

Since its inception in 1990, not much has changed with the EB-5 program. For example, the investment amount has remained $500,000 (for Targeted Employment Areas) and $1,000,000 respectively. Equally as notable, the number of visas issued every year has remained at 10,000. This number includes the principal investor and family (i.e. spouse and children under 21 are part of the 10,000 visa cap).

Prior to 2014, the visa cap was never reached. (1) That same year, nationals of China accounted for 90% of the EB-5 visas issued and the cap was exceeded which created the first backlog. Since then, it has only worsened. The visa backlog is estimated to be around 25,000 petitions.

Times have changed and we need to acclimate; we don’t live in the 1990’s anymore. The influx of I-526 petitions has backlogged the system, especially for Chinese investors with waits of approximately six years. One can argue that the United States EB-5 program is losing its competitiveness. Other countries that have similar programs can take as little at 3 months to process everything and confer citizenship (such as Cyprus, for example).

This backlog not only deters investors, but it costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars and numerous jobs that would otherwise be created.

One solution to this problem is do not include family members as part of the 10,000 cap. Alternatively, new legislation could allocate more visas for the EB-5 program to entice investors to come to the U.S. as opposed Spain, Australia, or the United Kingdom.

Although the EB-5 program is not perfect, it is arguably the most desirable program of its kind. Coming to the United States and receiving a green card is a dream come true for many people. Employment opportunities are abundant and high level education is superb.

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