India may hit its EB-5 visa annual limit for the first time this year, with H-1B and H-4 visas becoming harder to get, according to reports. The total number of EB-5 visas available to India annually is 700.
Indians have filed more than 500 applications for EB-5 visa category in the ongoing year i.e. October 2017-September 2018, the Economic Times reported citing official figures.
Until now, China had been at the forefront for the EB-5 visa, but the United States may trigger a per country cap for China, according to the report. China is also facing backlogs for the EB-5. While each country can receive only 7.1 per cent of the 10,000 available EB-5 visas annually, the unused visas can be distributed to countries with higher demand.
Currently, a person has to invest $500,000, and ensure that jobs for 10 Americans will be created or preserved, in order to be eligible for the EB-5 visa. The individual, their family and children under 21 become eligible for a green card faster than the H-1B route, which also carries educational and professionals conditions. With the EB-5 visa, an individual can live and work anywhere in the United States.
The investment amount is also set to increase to up to $1.3 million, according to CanAm Investor Services. This increase in investment amount can lead to a decline in applications from Indians, and is said to be another reason for more people hurrying to file applications.
“We absolutely see a continuous rush of EB-5 applications continuing until September. With expected changes to the program, like an increased investment amount, we anticipate the rush of applications to go up significantly in the next few months,” Pankaj Joshi, managing director at consulting firm NYSA, told the publication.
“The minimum investment limit is expected to increase from $0.5 million to $1.3 million. There are multiple proposals in place, one is by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that has proposed an increase in the investment amount to $1.3 million,” Abhinav Lohia, CanAm Investor Services vice president for India and Middle East, said in March 2018.
The United States announced in April 2018 that “India will hit its country cap in June 2019 and will start to see waiting periods of two-three years for allotment of green cards for EB-5 applicants who are approved,” Lindy Bradford, marketing manager at Florida-based US Immigration Fund, told ET.
Currently, the processing time for the EB-5 application is 18-24 months for approval, and six-nine months for processing of green cards.