EB-5 Visa: US Citizenship for the Wealthy is Priceless… Well then Again

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EB-5 Visa: US Citizenship for the Wealthy is Priceless… Well then Again

The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. Initially, under the first EB-5 program, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the Pilot Program investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing – “Troubled Business”), or into a “Regional Center” – a 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.

After listening to the constant debate and attacks on US immigration policy, and after watching several Republican Party debates (I assure you only for entertainment value) I have some quick take thoughts in no particular order.

1.  Notice that the debate only centers on excluding poor immigrants.

Namely, those that are leaving drug cartel and civil wars in South and Central America. One of the reasons for this situation, outside of the respective nations’ internal issues, is the failed U.S. War on Drugs.  However, no one is willing to raise this issue publicly.  In fact, most candidates still stand guarded on even discussing cannabis legalization.

So those poor immigrants who are trying to escape wars, drug lords, political persecution, or economic issues deserved to be fenced out. Additionally, children born in the US of these immigrant parents are also to be denied US citizenship.

Doesn’t sound like an open tent, nor does it sound to be the words of a God-fearing Christian Evangelical movement seeking to follow their savior’s words and deeds.  Thanks for visiting Wally-World! Park is closed.

2.  Notice that the public debate never mentions rich immigrants.

Those that have significant wealth, opportunity and connections are most welcomed here.  These are the “immigrants” we like.  They are generally European or Asian.  Although not stated outright, there is an underlying bias implied.

3.Congress is currently reviewing the EB-5 Visa program for wealthy foreigners.

The EB-5 immigrant investor program (remember poor folk doesn’t have assets to invest) which allows foreigners to get green cards by investing at least $500,000 in US businesses with the condition that the investment creates at least 10 US jobs.

This program was created in 1990, under the Papa Bush administration, as a way to stimulate the economy, but it is expiring as of September 30, 2015.  I have not heard a word from any Republican criticizing this program as essentially a quid-pro-quo for handing out US Citizenship.

4. A report by the GAO finds that there is plenty of fraud in the process and that the DHS “faces significant challenges” in detecting fraud since it is difficult to identify the source of the fund’s foreign investors use and whether if they are from illicit sources such as money laundering or the illegal drug trade.

These are different from the normal allegations I have heard levied in the Republican party against immigrants accusing them of being murders, rapists, and worse.

Again, it’s crickets I hear while I wait for political anger directed towards a real-world problem.


5. US Citizenship is priceless.  But there is a price tag.

After investing in the EB-5 business which can be either $500,000 or $1 million dollars, the rest of the associated costs for support, employees, consulting, filings, etc will ring the tab up at about another 300-500K for our new foreign friend.  So it’s not about the opportunity for all, or equal access, or even equal rights.  It’s about one thing, and that’s the green.  But unfortunately the wrong green.

In one sense the EB-5 program could help the cannabis industry, and other nascent industries, grow and prosper.  You could have foreign investors, such as Israelis, Europeans, South Americans, once properly vetted, who will invest in ancillary cannabis businesses such as technology, service providing, etc (until cannabis is rescheduled from a Schedule I substance under Federal law – and once that changes so will the investment opportunities) that will help fund the blossoming industry to the benefit of countless US citizens.

In a just world, these foreign investors would be forced to allocate a certain percentage of the required ten new jobs to those that are of the poorer financial ilk.  If you want the US to provide easy access for the rich to become citizens, perhaps requiring a debt of gratitude towards the less rich immigrant would be in order.

Seems like the Christian (in its truest meaning) thing to do.  But also remember, poor immigrants, don’t have Super Pacs. lobbyists or large checkbooks to gain “access” to the legislative process. So this is my own pipe dream for the time being.

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