Employment based fifth category visa or EB5 visa gives high net worth individuals an opportunity to get permanent residence in the United States for not only themselves but also their loved ones. An investor is required to make a qualifying investment of $500,000 in a targeted employment area (T.E.A.) or $1,000,000 in a non T.E.A and create 10 American jobs.
EB5 investors get a green card soon after their applications are processed, as opposed to other employment based visa categories such as H1B, L1A and L1B. After getting a work visa under most categories an employee needs to be sponsored by his or her employer under employment based first (EB1), second (EB2) or third (EB3) category for a green card. An Eb5 investor does not need a sponsor in the United States. Prior to September, EB1 and EB5 categories were current, however in the September visa bulletin published by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the priority date for EB5 was current whereas for EB1 it became January 2010, EB2 was February 2005 and EB3 was February 2005. Priority date determines when a beneficiary starts the consulate interview or adjustment of status process to attain permanent residence in the United States. Based on the priority dates it seems EB5 is the fastest employment based green card available to Indians.
With the H1B visa quota of 85,000 it is very difficult for applicants to get a work permit in the United States. Last year 233,000 applications were filed in the H1B visa category for a quota of 85,000 visas. For this reason, for almost two-thirds of the applicants the American dream became a distant reality. For those who did get selected in the H1B lottery, a green card is still a distant reality based on priority dates. Some immigrants will have to wait for more than 12 years to get a green card provided their employers sponsor them.
L1A visa was a good alternative to H1B visa because it allowed an applicant to lay foundation for a green card under EB1C category, however the priority date from EB1C has started to seesaw, in September it became January 2010. The long wait to attain a green card under EB1C category may jeopardize the future of many businesses by creating uncertainty in attainment of permanent residency for managers and executives of the companies.
The lottery system for H1B and the shift in priority dates for green card categories has made it more difficult to attain permanent residence in the United States. EB5 visas with current priority date has become the fastest option for Indian Nationals to get employment based permanent residence in the United States.
We have seen a shift in trend already, many high net worth individuals are applying for the EB5 visas not only for themselves but are also sponsoring their children studying in United States or working on H1B visa to avoid the long wait in getting United States permanent residence.
Abhinav Lohia, Esq.
Partner and Practice Chair of India and South East Asia
Davies & Associates, LLC