U.S. EB-5 immigrant investor program has witnessed major reforms of its investment amounts and Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) designation, according to information released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on July 24, 2019.
The new regulations require applicants to make a much larger amount of investment under the EB-5 immigrant investor program, either in commercial projects in TEA or other places of the U.S. The standard investment amount is increased to USD 1.8M from USD 1M, while the amount of investment required to be made in projects within TEA is raised to USD 900,000 from USD 500,000. What’s more, the investment amount is subject to further adjustment because of inflation.
The government also decides to strengthen the designation of the TEA. In this case, it will no longer be possible for the investment to be put in projects with relatively better location – low-resource urban areas. Qualified projects will be literally located in those high unemployment areas and rural areas.
Both the two new rules, especially the 80% increase in investment amount, are regarded as an impediment to the program, making it highly deviate from the initial intention of EB-5 program – to attract more foreign investors for the country. After all, except the worldwide reputation of U.S., nothing more can make this program stand out among all immigrant investor programs.
Primarily, the processing time of EB-5 immigrant investor program is too long. Based on the statistics released by the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of U.S. Department of State this month, the latest submission dates of EB-5 applications from China which have already been in progress can only be traced back to the end of 2014. In other words, all EB-5 visa applications lodged in the past four years have not yet been reviewed.
Additionally, the permanent residence granted by EB-5 immigrant investor program is not actually permanent. In fact, the conditional permanent resident status is only valid for two years. In order to renew the status, holders of EB-5 visa shall fulfil certain business requirements and provide tangible supporting evidence.
Due to the recent reforms, which have already been discussed for long, many start to consider other programs and countries as alternatives.
With the government’s strong support, in recent years, Portugal Golden Visa program has lured an increasing number of investors away from their home countries.
The program offers multiple investment options. Either through investing EUR 500,000 in real estate or EUR 350,000 in capital-protected fund investment program, applicants can acquire a Portugal resident permit which leads to citizenship after five years.
The competitive required investment amounts and friendly residency requirements make it one of the most lucrative Golden Visa programs around the globe, following the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
“Portugal is a good place for living, though it is not a mainstream power in the world.”
Ms. Wu has already moved to Portugal for almost 5 years. The life in Portugal exceeds her expectations. “It is safe. People here are friendly, and the [sociopolitical] atmosphere is moderate. Many well-off British people also buy houses here.”
While some are still obsessed with mainstream immigration destinations, the less conventional one – Portugal has seen a significant increase in the number of potential immigrants, according to Gallup, a global analytics company.
The country attracts new immigrants not only with its improving economic conditions. The benefits Portugal offers as a member nation of the European Union also arouse people’s interest in relocating to this country.
“If you have registered in the national health service system SNS, then you won’t have to pay for any surgery recommended by your GP in Portugal. Even laser eye surgery is free of charge. It is a part of the benefits that impresses me most,” Wu says. “Although Portugal is small in size by area, it has very well-established infrastructure and a sound [social] system.”
Many have concerns over communication in Portugal, as Portuguese is the country’s sole official language. However, it does not seem to be a problem to Wu.
“English is enough for communication in 90% of cases. Local people speak perfect English. Most films and TV programs are English dubbed with Portuguese subtitles.”
According to Euronews, a European television news channel, Portugal has “high proficiency” in English skills. Therefore, language barrier will not become a problem.
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