The US EB-5 investor visa program is done issuing visas to Chinese nationals for this fiscal year, thanks to a record surge of applicants from China.
The 24 year-old program, which provides 10,000 immigrant visas each year to individuals who invest a minimum of $500,000 into qualified projects in the US, has exhausted its allotment of the much sought after visas for the first time ever, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
While the new fiscal year’s supply of EB-5 visas will become available on October 1st, the growing popularity of the program with wealthy Chinese seeking to immigrate to the US, means that the supply of slots in US is likely to run out even more quickly next year.
85 Percent of EB-5 Applications Come From China
Citing experts on the EB-5 program, the Journal says that 85 percent of investors applying for the visas were from China this year, and the program now has a backlog of 10,375 applications. US officials now advise that qualifying investors may need to wait two years to obtain their visas.
The shortage of EB-5 positions is a new development for the program, which previously saw large numbers of visas go unwanted. As recently as 2012, only 7,641 of the available slots were claimed, and last year only 8,564 of the visas were used.
US law sets ceilings on the number of visas that can be awarded to applicants from a single country, but if some countries fail to use their quotas, then that quantity can be reassigned to applicants from another nation. With a shortage of investors from other lands, China has come to dominate the applications in recent years.
Chinese Dominate Investor Visa Program in Many Countries
A similar investor visa scheme in Canada was cancelled in February this year after public resistance to the program, which was seen as selling residency too cheaply. Under the Canadian investor visa system, of the 59,000 applications pending when the program was cancelled, 45,000 were from mainland Chinese. The Canadian program only required applicants to loan the government money, rather than making direct investments.
In Australia, statistics from the country’s “Significant Investor” visa program showed that 91 percent of applications were from Chinese citizens. Many reasons are given for the sudden surge in Chinese immigration, including a desire for a cleaner environment, better educational opportunities, and even corrupt officials seeking an escape route.