New US regulations allow Indians to move to America quickly

The American Legal Center is the premier immigration consultancy in the GCC region specialising in the EB-5 Golden Visa program

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Published: Tue 12 Dec 2023, 10:16 AM

Over the past three decades, expat families of Indian origin residing in the UAE and bordering countries have regularly used the EB-5 program, a parallel to the Golden Visa, to gain entry to the US. This fast-track route offers a swift pathway for foreign investors to obtain Green Cards for themselves, their spouse, and children under 21. The capital contribution requirement is $800,000 in a pre-approved US real estate project.

Since the enactment of new EB-5 legislation by the US government, called the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) in March 2022, the program has gained even more traction among Indian families. The RIA introduced three new categories of reserved EB-5 visas, known as visa set asides. “These visa set asides are crucial for Indian nationals seeking expedited entry to the US, provided they swiftly file their EB-5 applications,” Shahriar Zamanian, known by Shai Zamanian, explains to Khaleej Times. Shai serves as the director of The American Legal Center, which is the leading immigration firm in the GCC region, laser focused on US immigration through the EB-5 program.

Understanding Visa Set Asides

The US annually designates 10,000 EB-5 visas for individuals seeking lawful permanent resident status through capital investment. Before the RIA, all 10,000 visas were in the same category. The RIA established three new categories called visa set asides, allocating 32 per cent of the total for these categories. (10 per cent for the high unemployment areas reserved visa category, 20 per cent for rural areas, and two per cent for infrastructure projects). The pre-RIA EB-5 visa category is termed the unreserved visa category, while the new categories are called reserved visa categories.

Significance for Indian Nationals

As there is an annual cap of seven per cent for each country for the EB-5 program, nationalities with high demand, such as Indian and Chinese-born applicants, have historically faced longer wait times in receiving their EB-5 application approvals. This in the EB-5 industry is referred to as retrogression, which involves a slowdown in processing due to a large number of applicants. The December 2023 Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State indicates retrogression for Indian nationals in the unreserved category, meaning existing applicants can only obtain their I-526 approval if their priority date is earlier than the final action dates on the visa bulletin.

In comparison, the December 2023 Visa Bulletin shows that the three reserved visa categories have no additional wait times. Shai notes that while investors in these categories currently do not face retrogression, this is expected to change due to high demand from Indian nationals. "The influx of approximately 800,000 Indian-born workers in the US, many with H-1B visas, contributes to the rising interest in the EB-5 program. Most are filing under the new reserved categories for faster processing times," says Shai.

According to US government statistics, out of 1,585 EB-5 applications filed from April 2022 to April 2023, 93 per cent were in the reserved category, with 69 per cent filed under high unemployment areas. This indicates significant demand for the new reserved categories, which is understandable as the reserved categories come with the benefit of faster processing. Applicants from China and India show the highest demand for visa set asides given that the unreserved category is subject to retrogression. Experts in the EB-5 industry anticipate eventual retrogression in the reserved visa categories as well due to the high demand. Therefore, families that invest sooner will be at an advantage.

Consult The American Legal Center

The American Legal Center is composed of a team of US licensed lawyers and professionals and is the premier immigration consultancy in the GCC region specialising in the EB-5 Golden Visa program. With over a decade of EB-5 industry experience, The American Legal Center is laser focused on the US Golden Visa program and has assisted numerous families in realising their goal of immigrating to the US via this route. They can assist their clients in choosing a suitable project, one that qualifies them to file under the reserved categories to benefit from shorter wait times.

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