Weekly Current Affairs

Rich Indians worry as ‘dollar’ visa set to end [IR]

  • The United States of America’s EB-5 Programme, labelled as the ‘Green Card for greenback’ scheme, has been attracting attention, including from India, of late.
  • Many high net worth individuals world over are worried as the controversial immigrant visa programme for the wealthy is set to expire this month-end.
  • The programme grants rich entrepreneurs — as well as their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 — an opportunity to bag the coveted U.S. Green Card (or status of permanent residence) and Citizenship.
  • All they have to do is invest in just over half a million dollars in U.S. and ensure that the funds help generate at least ten full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
  • The visa, given in exchange for investments, grants the holder a conditional permanent residence status.
  • After two years, conditions may be removed, when it becomes permanent green card that can lead to citizenship, provided it resulted in creation of 10 jobs.
  • The programme is named EB-5 as it is the fifth preference category under the Employment-Based (EB) immigration visas.
  • The EB-5 programme was created in 1990 with the approval of the US Congress — America’s highest law-making body. It aims to boost the American economy by attracting investment from foreign nationals & generating employment for locals.
  • In 1992, its scope was widened through an Immigrant Investor Programme, or the Regional Centre Programme.
  • Regional Centres are certain designated organisations permitted to collect money from overseas investors seeking the EB-5 visas, and then pump such foreign investment (which is usually much cheaper than other forms of funds including bank credit) into officially approved projects.
  • In order to be considered for permanent residency status in the U.S., the Programme mandates a qualified foreign investor to invest at least $1 million — or a minimum of $500,000 if the investment is made in certain rural areas or regions with high unemployment — and show that ten or more full-time positions were generated or preserved directly or indirectly as a result of that investment.
  • In backdrop of allegations of fraud and corruption — including against Indianorigin individuals — related to it, the U.S. Congress will soon have to consider whether to renew it or to pay heed to growing criticism and wind it up altogether.