2015 saw demand surge for EB-5 US visas

The controversial immigration program offered by the US government that allows green cards to be given to certain foreign investors increased in demand to record levels last year, with the new surge of would-be immigrants being fueled by fears that one of the law’s most important provisions might be set to expire.

The program, which is known as the EB-5 US visa, received 17,691 applications from potential investors last year, a rise from 11,744 the year before and from as little as 6,554 just three years ago in 2013. The figures were released by US Citizenship and Immigration Services last week. At the close of 2015, there were as many as 21,988 applications from investors still pending, meaning that the great majority are faced with a backlog of five years at minimum.

In recent years the number of applications has been growing steadily stronger, but the new rush seems to have been especially strong at the end of last year because a vital aspect of the EB-5 US visa program was nearing its expiration date. The new influx has since slowed down after the law was actually extended for a further ten months in December.

The recent fall in demand may also have been partly caused by China’s slowing economy, which is responsible for over 80 percent of issued EB-5 US visas. The program offers green cards only to foreign investors who are able to invest a minimum of $500,000 into businesses that are then seen to result in the creation of at least ten American jobs.