CHENNAI: Immigrant EB5 visas, for small business that create jobs in the US, have seen a spurt of interest in India with applications under this quota increasing 25% year over year, say sources. For the first 70 days of 2016, 130 EB5 visas have been granted by the US government for Indian businesses, while only 111 were granted for the whole of 2015, data with the US State Department said.
The immigrant visa, aimed at helping businessmen, fell afoul of authorities when Indian-origin Anshoo Sethi convinced about 290 Chinese nationals to invest $160 million dollars in a non-existent hotel complex. Charges were brought against Sethi that he had defrauded investors and the the US government through false statements and representations over his intention to build a convention center complex with hotels near O’Hare International Airport between January 2011 and February 2013. But despite such setbacks and negative press, law firms say that there is now a definite increase in interest in both countries for the issuance of visas in this category.
“I can certainly say EB5 will be the next big thing on the Indian business start-up scene. We’ve had clients from high-level fashion houses to sweet shops opting for the programme. China every year has thousands of visas issued under this category. Even Vietnam that’s much smaller in size has more EB5 visas issued than India,” says lawyer Mark Davies.
For many Indians, the green card provides such an irresistible allure that they fail to read the fine print when it comes to the investment. “One has to be very sure as to the reason why one needs visa under a particular category. There are L1, B1 visas also available. In EB5 there is the catch of investing back into America – and with the amount being clearly specified,” says lawyer A Sirajudeen.