A foreigner investing a minimum of $1 million, or $500,000 in some cases, in a project that creates at least 10 jobs can apply for a green card in the US, according to the Immigrant Investor Programme (EB-5) programme.
Investing in real estate projects in exchange for legal immigration status has become big business in New York City, ‘The New York Times’ said, revealing foreigners, over 80 per cent of them from China, are investing billions of dollars in hotels, condominiums, office towers and public/private works.
Legal residency, under the programme, can generally take between 22 and 26 months, the article said.
Global real estate consultancies, based in Dubai, could not provide any details on the number of UAE nationals or residents that had invested through the programme.
Middle East investors have been snapping up properties in London, which has been the most-favoured investment destination.
In November 2014, Emirates 24|7 reported that investors buying four-bedroom villas in the Dh2.5-billion Ajman Uptown master development in Ajman qualify to apply for citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island nation lying near the Caribbean Sea.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the EB-5 programme, created by US Congress in 1990, to stimulate the country’s economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, according the US government website.
The programme has become popular in the last four years with 1,885 visas issued in fiscal year 2010 jumping 354 per cent to 8,564 in 2013, the newspaper said based on government data.
In 2014, the entire annual allotment of 10,000 visas had been claimed by August — before the end of the fiscal year in October. This year the quota was reached even earlier by May 1.
Under the programme, the family of the investor, including any dependent under 21, can apply for a green card, and each family member is counted toward the quota. As most investors apply as a couple or a family, the supply is used up quickly, it added.
In fiscal year 2013, investment through the visa programme totaled $379 million in New York State, the article quoted data from Invest in the USA, an industry trade body for the EB-5 programme, saying.
In Europe as well, there are countries offering golden visa (read: EU residency permit) to investors who put in 5000,000 euros in real estate.
The golden visa has brought 1.27 billion euros of investments to Portugal in two years, Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcaster, said quoting country’s Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas. It added that over 1,500 golden visas were issued in 2014 with the largest number coming from Chinese, followed by Brazilians and Russians.