Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
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Congress considers changes to the EB-5 visa program

California residents may have read recent media reports about the controversial EB-5 visa program that grants permanent legal residence in the United States to foreign nationals who invest $500,000 or more into an enterprise that creates jobs for Americans. The program has been particularly popular among wealthy Chinese citizens, but it has come under fire from critics who say that it amounts to selling green cards to the wealthy. The criticism of the program has crossed party lines, and Congress is considering a number of changes designed to reduce the likelihood of fraud and ensure that the jobs created are in areas of high unemployment.

One of the legislative proposals being considered would see the required investment for an EB-5 visa increased to between $800,000 and $1.2 million while another would require greater transparency regarding how the money is to be spent. Investors may also be questioned more thoroughly about how they earned the money.

Other proposals being discussed would stipulate where the money would be spent. Popular EB-5 investment vehicles include real estate developments in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but some lawmakers want rules in place that would require investment in rural areas with a greater need for jobs. Defenders of the program point out that many of the workers on big city construction projects live in suburbs with high rates of unemployment.

Countless people around the world dream of living and working legally in the United States, but few of them have the funds necessary to qualify for an EB-5 visa. Many individuals hope that an employment-based visa will allow them to start a new life in America, but the regulations are strict and the documentation requirements can be confusing. Experienced employment immigration attorneys may be able to offer employers and immigrants advice on the various visa programs available and the specific requirements of each of them.

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