Green Cards For Sale: How Rich Foreigners Buy U.S. Visas
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Approximately 10,000 green cards are up for sale through the government’s EB-5 immigrant investor program
Perhaps money can’t buy love or happiness, but it can purchase visas for rich foreigners to live in the United States. Roughly 10,000 green cards are for sale each year — and the price starts at $500,000 under the federal government’s controversial EB-5 immigrant investor program.
Here’s the deal: American businesses get infusions of capital to stimulate the economy and job growth. In exchange, wealthy foreign investors can jump to the front of the immigration line, often avoiding the level of scrutiny and red tape that other visa applicants must endure.
But EB-5 is under fire amid concerns over fraud, benefits, and national security during an election year in which immigration is a hot-button issue. Government Accounting Office reports, including ones this month and last year, have faulted regulators for lax oversight.
Unless Congress acts to extend EB-5, the program will end September 30, the close of the federal fiscal year.
The overwhelming majority of investor visas go to Chinese nationals. They received 83 percent of the 9,764 EB-5 visas issued last year.
To qualify for an EB-5 visa, an applicant must invest at least $1 million — or $500,000 in a high-unemployment area — toward a new commercial enterprise that will create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs. If approved, investors and their dependents receive conditional resident status; they can apply for permanent status after two years.