Photo: Special Visas Give Wealthy Latin Americans Opportunity to Live in U.S.
For wealthy foreign-born businesspeople, waiting years for a U.S. visa may not be necessary if they are willing to invest at least $500,000 and create a minimum number of jobs in U.S towns.
Wealthy individuals are taking advantage of a conditional visa known as the EB-5 visas, which can turn into permanent residency status for those who invest at least $500,000 in high-unemployment or rural areas, or $1 million anywhere else. In doing so, the investors and their families can obtain the EB-5 visa.
Miami, Florida is seeing a substantial increase in the number of Latin American-born investors taking advantage of the EB-5 visas by putting up the money, moving themselves and their families to the U.S., put their children through U.S. schools, and allow someone else to manage the investment project and job creation.
Since its inception in 1990, it is estimated that about 34,000 jobs have been created by EB-5 investments.
The number of potential Latin American investors applying for the EB-5 has risen 71 percent over the last two years, with Venezuela and Mexico leading the way. Of the 95 Latin Americans who applied in 2010, 44 were accepted, and of the 163 in the first 10 months of 2011, 68 were accepted.
Stephanie Ostapowich, public affairs officer, Office of Communications, Media Relations Division, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said, “It’s like when you buy a season pass to Vail to ski. With EB-5, you buy a season pass to live in America and you pay $500,000 for it.”
However, there are those who do not see it that way. Those opposed to the EB-5 say it is nothing more than a way for wealthy people to buy their way into the country, and creates another avenue for investment scams.