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Chinese aplicants dominate EB-5 visa program

The EB-5 visa program has attracted wealthy immigrants from around the world, but nowhere more often than from China. Chinese investors dominate EB-5 visa applications, Reuters reports.

The news agency cites a report by real estate services firm Savills Studley that claims that residents of mainland China make up more than 80 percent of EB-5 applications. As we have discussed before, non-citizens of the U.S. can gain permanent residency status in this country through EB-5, which requires at least $500,000 investment in a U.S. business.

Quotas limit the number of applications from China, and the waiting list reached the quota late in August last year. This year, Savills Studley expects China to reach the limit by September.

Though the U.S. issues thousands of EB-5 visas each year, the vast majority go to mainland Chinese. Of the 10,700 EB-5 visas issued in 2013, 85 percent went to mainland Chinese.

What draws these applicants to this country? Reuters believe they are looking for places outside of China to place their money. Many of them buy up houses to rent out, particularly in states with relatively cheap real estate.

It could also be that many of them are seeking to escape anti-corruption efforts in China. Immigration to Australia has also increased under a similar visa-for-investment scheme in that country, ever since the Chinese government began cracking down on graft.

The EB-5 visa requires substantial financial investment, and may not be an option for everyone looking to live in Florida as a resident alien. But the law has other visa options for professionals, workers and their families.

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