Money for visa freeze lifts Oct 1

Updated: 2014-09-11 12:21

By Lian Zi in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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The current freeze on Chinese EB-5 investment visas will be ended on October 1, when the new fiscal year comes. A new 10,000 quota will be open to EB-5 visa applicants from all countries.

On Aug 23, the State Department announced that EB-5 visas were "unavailable" for Chinese investors for the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year, since the maximum number of EB-5 applicants from China had been reached.

According to data provided by the Association to Invest in USA (IIUSA), in 2013, more than 80 percent of the available EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese investors. When the number exceeded the allotted 7 percent allocation of EB-5 visas, Chinese investors took advantage of other countries' unused visas.

However, because of the influx of qualified EB-5 applications from countries worldwide, the State Department announced a freeze on Chinese investors' application.

Chinese applicants who had already been scheduled for an interview with the US consulate for EB-5 visas before the September cut-off date would not be impacted by the visa freeze, as confirmed by a representative of Civitas Capital Group, adding that the consulate should have set aside visas for these applicants.

According to PRWeb, a new 10,000 EB-5 visa quota, which is for all countries, will be available for the fiscal year 2015 starting on Oct 1.

Even though a new 10,000-visa quota will be open to applicants soon, experts are still worried about the negative impact of the delay in approval for green cards on Chinese investors.

Quota retrogression will mean processing a backlog sometime in Congress' FY 2015, delaying the processing time of Chinese EB-5 applications, said Thomas Chan, attorney at Fox Rothschild, a Los Angeles-based law firm, adding "instead of being acted on immediately, applications currently filed will be put on hold and not worked on until Oct 1, 2014."

Chan estimated that current projected delays would be at least two years, adding that the backlog would increase the delay further.

According to Dan Healy, CEO of Civitas Capital Group, currently there is a huge rush of Chinese clients quickly looking to start the EB-5 process to avoid longer waiting times in 2015.

"The quota highlights that sometime next year a cutoff date for Chinese applicants will probably come into effect, making wait times for Chinese applicants grow to two to three years, or more," he said.

Dependent children whose ages are around 20 would be negatively influenced by the visa freeze since they will be over the age limit by the time the visa comes up for approval, said Chan. According to the law, applicants' spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can get green cards as accompanying relatives.