Interest continues to increase for the EB-5 visa around the globe, and specifically for Indian nationals.
The monthly Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for the month of July 2019, confirms that a waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 principal investors will be imposed starting on July 1, 2019. The DOS expects that new EB-5 visa petitions filed by Indian-born investors will have to wait for approximately 5-8 years to obtain an EB-5 visa.
The DOS’s recognition of a visa waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 investors is in-line with earlier DOS public predictions going back to April 2017, and most recently, echoed in May 2019 by the DOS’s lead analyst for world-wide visa usage.
The expectation of a waiting list in July 2019 has actually caused a recent spike in demand for EB-5 green cards in India. According to Nicholas A. Mastroianni III, President of market-leading regional center, U.S. Immigration Fund, there is likely to be continued demand for EB-5 green cards from India in the near term. “We are expecting to see further interest from investors who want to secure an early priority date – and now is a great time to apply before the wait list continues to grow,” he concluded.
The total wait time for an EB-5 visa for an Indian investor – even with the new waiting list – is still years shorter than other U.S. green card programs. The EB-2 and EB-3 green card programs both face significantly longer waiting lists. For example, the EB-2 green card category for India has remained consistently popular over the past decade. Currently, there are 14,000 Indians with pending applications filed on or before 2012. Not surprisingly, the Visa Bulletin shown little progress for the EB-2 category for India, with the Final Action Date slowly moving from 2008 to 2009 over the past 2 years. The EB-2 waiting list for India is thus estimated to be approximately 10-15 (or more) years.
“The EB-5 visa category continues to have attractive features for Indian investors at present. Potential investors are paying close attention to the possibility of longer waiting lists or increased investment requirements in the future. The waiting list means that families need to plan earlier than ever,” said Ignacio Donoso, Founder and Managing Partner of Donoso and Associates, a boutique business immigration law firm based in Washington, D.C.
In 2019, India is currently the third-largest market for the EB-5 visa, behind China and Vietnam. The number of Indian citizens who have been issued EB-5 visas has quadrupled since 2017. Indians were issued 585 EB-5 visas during the 12-month period concluding September 2018, compared to 174 in 2017, and 149 in 2016 –an impressive 293% increase over two years.