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Can EB5 visa open doors for students to settle in the US

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The EB-5 visa is an investor visa issued to those making an at-risk investment of at least $1 million in a commercial enterprise in the USA

The numbers prove it beyond doubt— Indians love studying in the US. Currently, there are more than 1.96 lakh Indians studying in the US. The numbers have risen by 5.4% as compared to 2017 and more than doubled in the past 10 years. Studying in the US has never been just about the degree for Indian students. For most, studying in the US is often the first step towards a work permit, a well-paying job, and, ultimately, the coveted green card or permanent resident status in the country.

However, with the Trump administration cracking down on H-1B visas, more and more students are considering the EB-5 visa for a stable and secure future in the US.

What is EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 visa is an investor visa issued to those making an at-risk investment of at least $1 million in a commercial enterprise in the USA and, further, creating 10 permanent jobs for American workers. If investing in a Targeted Employment Area, the minimum investment is reduced to just $500,000. 

An investor fulfilling these two conditions receives a conditional green card valid for two years. Post this period and subject to investment and job-creation requirements being met, the conditions are removed, and the investor, his/her spouse, and dependent children aged below 21 years become US green card holders or permanent residents. The surge in pending I-526 petitions from India—its filing marks the formal commencement of the EB-5 process—over the years is a clear indicator of the growing popularity of the programme among wealthy Indians.



I-526 petitions pending USCIS processing

2018 (Jan to Oct)















Smart choice

For a parent sending his/her child to study in the US, simultaneously applying for an EB-5 visa will roughly be equal to the average cost of an American degree. Yet, this option offers several distinct advantages over the conventional study visa and H-1B route to the green card.

More breathing space

Currently, a foreign student has just 60 days post completion of their study before he/she falls out of status and becomes an illegal resident. With a green card in hand, the student is free to stay in the US and plan his/her future course of action without any legal complications.


Bypassing H-1B chaos

The H-1B visa is, essentially, a lottery where qualifying for the visa is a matter of random chance. Further, qualifying for the H-1B visa has become a lot tougher.

The definition of specialty occupations is being interpreted very narrowly. There has been a surge in H-1B rejections and those receiving approval are facing more requests for clarifications. There have been controversial proposals like revocation of the AC21 rule that allows H-1B holders with pending green applications to continue living and working in the US.

Holding an EB-5 visa will mean the student can, after graduation, completely bypass the chaotic and uncertainty-ridden process of the H-1B visa. With EB-5 processing times currently around two years, a student joining a three-year or four-year course may well be a US permanent resident by the time he or she graduates.

As a green card holder, the student can search for jobs, start a new business venture, join a startup, or opt for a combination of these options without worrying about violating immigration regulations.

Better deal for spouses

Those planning their advanced degrees in the US can apply on their own, which means spouses of such applicants too will be granted permanent resident status. Both partners will enjoy the right to work and live in the US without any restrictions, something that is fast becoming impossible for H-1B visa holders. Further, such students can apply as an in-state student and qualify for lower tuition fees and access to a wider choice of scholarships and financial assistance.

Most Indians consider a foreign degree more as an investment than an expense. The EB-5 visa attempts to offer a hassle-free route to green card and subsequent US citizenship, and in effect is being increasingly viewed as a smart add-on for the Indian student in the US.

(The author Vivek Tandon is founder and CEO of EB5 BRICS)



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