Migration Policy Institute
Investor Visa Programs: Examining their Utility, Challenges, and Successes
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President, MPI Europe, and President Emeritus, MPI
Kate Hooper, Research Assistant, MPI
On December 11, the EB-5 regional center program, a key piece of the U.S. EB-5 investor visa program is set to expire unless Congress acts to reauthorize or simply extend it. The EB-5 program grants legal permanent residence (green cards) to foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million (or $500,000 in poorer areas) in a U.S. commercial enterprise that creates or preserves ten jobs. While many stakeholders are pushing to renew the program with certain appropriate reforms, others have called for its termination, citing reports of fraud, abuse, and unclear economic benefits.
Uncertainty about the future of the U.S. EB-5 program comes as several other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries are trying to maximize the investor visa programs’ economic benefits. Canada unveiled a new pilot program in January, targeting wealthy foreign nationals willing to make a long-term investment in a venture capital fund, while in July, Australia revised its investment requirements and launched a new "Premium Investor" channel for very wealthy applicants. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is reviewing the overall design of its Tier 1 (Investor) program, to try and ascertain which investments would generate the greatest economic benefits.
Against this backdrop, Migration Policy Institute President Emeritus Demetrios Papademetriou and MPI’s Kate Hooper examine the motivations underpinning recent changes to investor visa programs in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, and the implications for the future direction of these programs.