Thursday, January 03, 2008

EB-5 visa program places value on citizenship

The EB-5 Visa visa came into existence by way of the Immigration Act of 1990, the silver lining of an otherwise atrocious bill that removed AIDS as a reason to deem aspiring immigrants ineligible for residency and created the "diversity immigrant" category for the inane Visa Lottery system that currently grants residency to 50,000 families who are lucky enough to have their raffle number called. The US green card lottery service website illustrates the prostitution of US residency to the level of a prize that is to be given away on a game show hosted by Congressional leaders but furnished by excacerbated natives:
-A chance for you to legally live and work in the U.S.A. with a legal green card.
-50,000 winners and their families will win a US green card every year!
-Easy online registration
-Double chances for married people to win the green card lottery.
-Winners will receive a FREE airline ticket from USAGCLS*
While we apparently put no value on residency in the cases of those DV lottery winners, the EB-5 program asks for quite a bit:
For a $500,000 investment in a distressed area, a foreigner and his immediate family become eligible for conditional green cards. They become permanent a few years later upon evidence that the investment has created at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.
Would-be migrants may also become eligible by pumping $1 million into less risky ventures. This strikes me as a great way to go about granting residency:
Under the program, developers sometimes working with local officials apply to the Immigration agency for "regional center" status, typically in a distressed area. Once approved, a regional center markets its program overseas to investors who become equity partners.

The projects promise only modest returns. But that isn't the main concern for investors such as Sungtae Kim, a Korean software entrepreneur who wanted to come to the U.S. to give his daughters better opportunities.
Making the investments Americans won't make. Really, that's not just a bankrupt talking point. Natives won't put money into these projects. It's not for a lack of capital, but because they can realize better returns elsewhere. These aren't lucrative projects.

So these investors are putting money into blighted places where the expected ROI is too low to justify the risks assumed. That doesn't sound like something to necessarily be celebrated, but keep in mind that many of projects like these would be on the receiving end of governmental pork spending if not for outside investors.

The requirement that a prospective resident be able to put up at least $500,000 proxies for beneficial attributes like above average IQ and industriousness, and limited time preference. The visa also puts foreigners, instead of US taxpayers, on the hook for things like the development of energy alternatives that may not be economically viable (like biofuels) and consequently struggle to attract sufficient investment, as well as dubious 'revitalization' efforts that often become tax dollar sinkholes.

Unlike the Visa Lottery or the lack of serious border and interior immigration enforcement, the program values citizenship. That aspiring citizens will put $500,000 or more into financially imprudent projects for the chance of eventually acquiring citizenship (keep in mind the project must be shown to have created at least ten domestic jobs for the grant of temporary residency to be expanded to an offer of citizenship) demonstrates that the right to residency is worth a lot.

That there are potential immigrants who place that much value on it illustrates how foolish our tolerance of illegal immigration is. We are passing up a major opportunity for real contributers, who are willing to start contributing before they even arrive, while tolerating the residency of millions of unskilled immigrants who create little wealth, depress wages, send tens of billions out of the US economy in the form of remittances in return for nothing, and burden the US with a host of other costly externalities, like poor academic performance and gang violence.

I'd like to see a question along the lines of "Why when we can attract immigrants who are willing to pony up half a million dollars to come here do we allow others to pay a coyote $3,000 to lead them through deserts where scientists are trying conduct their fieldwork?" asked of the candidates as their running around Iowa and New Hampshire.

The EB-5 visa program is far from being utilized to capacity:
In the financial year that ended Sept. 30, the immigration agency awarded 803 conditional EB-5 green cards to investors and their families, up from 247 in 2004. Mr. Berez hopes by 2011 to be issuing all 10,000 of the green cards available each year under the program -- a potential of nearly $2 billion in annual investments, he estimates.
Immigrants, both legal and illegal, are more likely to settle among the lower classes than natives are:
Both immigrants and illegal aliens are more likely to be poor and to use welfare programs than native-born Americans because they come to the country with lower levels of education, according to a new study looking at U.S. Census Bureau data.
That immigrants are more likely to be destitute welfare users than the population at large is easily changeable.

Why not have something like the EB-5 visa program determine to whom we issue all of our visas? Determine the total number issued and the investment required to obtain one based on whatever the optimal amount of annual immigration is agreed to be. Why not introduce other requirements, possibly in lieu of investments, like a deposit that is only returned after several years of continual residency can be established? Introduce non-economic requirements as well, concerning things English language fluency, educational attainment, physical health, occupational status, and the like.

There are potentially 5 billion people who want to come stateside. To live in the US is to enjoy a prized existence. Why not take advantage of that by raising the bar high for those who are granted the right to do so (and ensure that those who are not authorized to be in the US are not allowed to get here in the first place, and not allowed to remain here if they manage to make it in nonetheless), and in the process take in the cream of the crop among those 5 billion or so people?


savage said...

It is indeed treasonous that such an amount might be in effect extorted from some while to so many others no such requirement is made, specifically in that those on which the requirement is made are those who are more desirable to have. The ones who are asked nothing to come also give nothing in return.

c.o. jones said...

There may be 5 billion people NOW who want to come to the USA, but it won't stay that way forever. If we keep allowing several million poor, uneducated people entry on a year-in, year-out basis, at some point per capita income (and per capita GDP) is going to start to sink like a rock. Standards of living will start to decline, and eventually the the USA will not look that different from, let's say, Mexico or Brazil or any other 2nd rate country you might care to mention. The immigration problem will resolve itself on its own (if you want to look at it that way) because our country won't look so much better by comparison. Hell, at some point we might become a net exporter of people.

Anonymous said...

If the US starts to turn into a 3rd world dump (and it already has, but we can stop and turn that process back) the you can bet there will be be not only people leaving, but the US breaking up into racially homogenous regions. In fact, you will probably see the break-up/secession/violence happen first, along with the attendant bloodshed, economic disruptions and other fun stuff.

Audacious Epigone said...


Seems to me this is discriminatory for sure! How dare we not treat all immigrants equally? I say we must rectify this injustice, and insist upon only the highest of standards, across the board.


Right, that desirability is an advantage to be leveraged. But if we fail to leverage it, and instead squander it on a massive scale, there will no longer be any advantage to leverage at all.

The immigration problem will indeed 'work itself out' in the sense that at some point the net migration rate will be zero (or become negative), when the US is no longer a more desirable place to live than Brazil or Mexico. Of course, that's a disastrous outcome.


It is occuring in some places. In Los Angeles, for example, there are heavily Hispanic areas that have become no-go zones for blacks. A portent for what the future holds, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Heh, I am a legal immigrant who got his green card via the lottery.

I work in Silicon Valley and help build products that are designed in the US and have a computer science degree from another country.

Just saying ...

CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Audacious Epigone said...


Great. Why should we choose randomly, when the US might have chosen you and thousands of others who have capabilities similar to yours, instead of having to rely on a lucky draw (and lots of duds)?

Anonymous said...

Audy Epi said:

Great. Why should we choose randomly, when the US might have chosen you and thousands of others who have capabilities similar to yours, instead of having to rely on a lucky draw (and lots of duds)?

Oh, I agree. The diversity visa is a farce. I happen to come from a country that has, at least until now, applied quite strict criteria on migrants (apart from family reunion, and even there there are criteria).

As I pointed out in another blog, in some species of primates higher status individuals harass individuals of lower status to reduce their reproductive success. The current approach has that feel.

Sundarraj Jayaraj said...

Good blog nice to go, my uncle back to india through Australian visa welcome to india uncle

Mensarefugee said...

But 500,000 in a distressed area.
Sounds awfully like dropping money down the black hole of Black "Enterprise zones"

Mike said...

Nice Blog
I need a help !!!!!!!!!
I need a details about Business India visa .what will be charge for that and procedure.

Angelina said...

This website got all the information about the US visas issues who are responsible for the harrasment of many travellers of U.S.

eb5 visa program said...

I am representative of the eb5 visa program, which grants accredited foreign investors the right to come into the US in exchange for a hefty and long term, but low-risk investment. The opportunities to many of these investors once they come to America provide money-making opportunities that eventually cancel out the investment made through the regional eb-5 center. The program is safe, secure, and makes sense for all wealthy foreigners wishing to move to the US.

eb5 visa program said...

I actually think the Immigration Act of 1990 was a wonderful thing, full stop. The items you single out to voice your disdain for it are actually what, in my view, makes it such a great piece of legislation!

Anonymous said...

Interesting take. The problem is the US immigration system USCIS, does not provide any benefit for an education for those with a bachelor, masters or even a ph.d . And it doesn't distinguish the Western bachelor's from the indian and chinese degrees that can be bought because those countries are corrupt. Us should consider moving to a points system. As it is now, it basically says if you have a job offer you can get a green card (with varying wait times depending on how high the qualification ie. if mcdonald's wants to bring a mexican it will take years). However if you have a masters or a bachelor degree from canada but no job offer your turned down over pedro to pick mangoes. Its obvious pedro will get tired of picking mangoes and will take welfare (who wouldn't) but the government doesn't care. The eb-5 is a good visa, but the requirement should be lowered to 100k. You'll get more investors

Anonymous said...

what happens if the company goes bust! Who pays the investor back? Who has accountability of the investment funds? Can the investment funds be used to pay off company debt, or just for capitol for the company to run and grow?

Md Belal said...

Many people look to come to the U.S. on a green card but some are unaware that there is more than one type eb5 visa