Bill in US Congress seeks to reform EB-5 visa program: Why it’s important for Indians

The EB-5 visa program was formulated in 1990 to allow foreign investors to get their green card by investing in a US business.
Indian passport with US Dollars
Indian passport with US Dollars
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In good news for Indian nationals, the EB-5 investor programme could be back on track before it lapses, as a bipartisan Bill seeking its reform was introduced in the US Congress last week. The programme is set to run out by the end of June. 

Senators Chuck Grassley (Republican) and Patrick Leahy (Democrat) have introduced the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2021, which seeks reform and reauthorisation of the EB-5 Regional Centres programme for a period of five years. 

The EB-5 programme is one of the easiest and fastest ways to immigrate to the United States and is considered to be the best alternative to the H-1B visa for Indians.

It was formulated in 1990, by the US Congress to give foreign investors the opportunity to obtain their green card by investing in a US business that will create jobs for Americans and benefit the economy.

The programme allows residents of India to obtain their US green card by investing a minimum of $500,000 into a new commercial enterprise through a Regional Centre. 

Indian residents can benefit from the EB-5 visa programme in several ways, including investor and family members being eligible for green cards; ability to live and move anywhere in the US; flexibility to work anywhere in the US or start a company; no sponsorship required from employer or family member; a direct path to US citizenship after 5 years of permanent residency (if the investor chooses).

In the last few years, the EB-5 has increased in popularity among Indians looking for a US green card or permanent residence permit. 

According to the not-for-profit trade association Invest in USA (IIUSA), the demand for EB-5 visas has risen 400% from 2016-2019 among Indians. 

Indian nationals were issued over 300 EB-5 visas in FY20, and stood second only to Chinese nationals in that period, as per data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Earlier, the EB-5 was linked to a government spending bill and would get automatically extended each time this bill was passed. However, former US President Donald Trump decoupled this last year, thereby necessitating specific legislation to extend it. 

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