EB-5 visa provides fast track for Indian HNIs stuck on long green card queues

Even as many Indians in the US, who are H-1B work visas, face huge backlogs for their permanent residency, the EB-5 visa programme has emerged as a solution for some high net worth individuals to get green cards on a fast-track. It is a programme that enables foreign investors to obtain a green card by investing in a business that will benefit the US economy and create jobs.
“The EB-5 is an alternative to certain other employment related visa categories, as a faster pathway to getting a green card. There are thousands of Indian students who go to the US for higher education and would like to stay back and work there. The H-1B work visa is allotted every year through a lottery system and many Indian students are not lucky enough to make it, thus becoming ineligible to work in the US. For those who do get the H-1B visas, there is a huge wait of decades to get green cards – which means they will turn over 50 years old before they get US citizenship. For those of them who can afford it, the EB-5 is a fast track to the green card,” says Abhinav Lohia, an attorney based in New York and chief operating officer, Golden Gate Global, an EB-5 regional centre, an USCIS designated economic unit for participation in the immigrant investor programme.
According to the new EB-5 laws, that were enacted in March 2022, investment of $800,000 in rural projects in America, in areas of high unemployment, will ensure fast track green cards for Indians, says Lohia. Several Indians who had applied for EB-5 in 2018-19 are facing over two and a half year delays or retrogression because the demand for this route to get green cards had boomed with thousands of applications being made. However, with the new rules in place, in the new reserved category, applications are current and have not retrogressed.
One of the reasons that makes the EB-5 route more attractive, after the series of legislative changes, under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act, were announced, is the fact that an applicant’s employment with a current employer is not impacted and it is possible to keep multiple green card applications running at the same time. The concurrent filing feature allows qualified applicants, who are already in lawful status in the US, to file an application to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident (Form I-485) concurrently with the filing of their EB-5 petitions (Form I-526E) without leaving the country.
“We are experiencing a surge in EB-5 interest among Indians, both living in India and America. This surge is being driven by multiple factors, including a feature in the new EB-5 law that allows Indians to file for adjustment of status (I-485) concurrently with EB-5, which makes it possible for them to stay in the US without returning to their home country. Most of the Indian investors participating in the last two EB-5 closing transactions since September with us have filed concurrent visa petitions while residing in the US,” says Peter Calabrese, CEO, CanAm Enterprises, a financial firm specialising in US immigration-linked investment funds.
He adds that with the turmoil that the tech sector layoffs are causing among the Indian community in the US, his company is counselling those who are impacted to consider the EB-5 visa which can serve both their most immediate and long-term immigration needs. “It will help highly skilled Indians and their families to manage their visa uncertainties.”
Unlike H-1B, EB-5 has no sponsorship or educational requirements; there are neither language nor business background requirements, says Calabrese. “While it is not an immediate stop-gap solution to the sudden rise in US layoffs that disproportionately impact Indian nationals, EB-5 offers a clearer path for Indian immigrants seeking more work and life stability and permanent US residency,” he adds.

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