What can be better than getting a hassle-free visa for higher studies in the US and not be worried about sponsors and future job opportunities as well? The USCIS ((the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) EB5 Visa/Green Card program could be the solution for students with this dream.
Once an Indian student is admitted to an American undergraduate or postgraduate collegiate programme, the herculean task of securing immigration rights to undertake the studies becomes a daunting challenge. Of all other visa types, the EB5 Visa gives a permanent opportunity to students to complete their higher studies, get settled in the US, and secure employment as a green card holder.
The EB5 (Employment Based 5thPreference) Investor Visa was enacted by the US Congress and signed by President George HW Bush in 1990, allowing a limited number of foreigners the opportunity to get green cards and settle in the US. The purpose of this immigration programme was to improve foreign relations by way of economic development/foreign investment in American businesses creating American jobs. The innovative programme has been a huge success. Under EB-5, upon investing US$500,000, the approved investor receives permanent resident status for himself and his immediate family (including spouse and children below the age of 21 years), providing for themselves the opportunity to work or study anywhere within the US. The investment must be in a project approved by USCIS evidencing that the investment will create a full-time job opportunity for a minimum of 10 American citizens, thus contributing to the local economy.
From an educational perspective, the EB5 Visa carries the most benefits for students aspiring to obtain higher education from esteemed schools and colleges in the US. Students with green cards are eligible for increased financial aid during school and do not require sponsorship from prospective employers. Even during their studies, students are able to travel freely, work off campus, undergo internships, apply for postgraduate programmes and training, and work anywhere in the country.
It is important to note that at the time of EB5 Visa application, the investor’s children must be of age 21 or below. The EB5 program has a structured support of immigration professionals based in the US that help the investor and the family apply for green cards promptly. Further clearances from USCIS are also processed smoothly and permanent citizenship is obtained in due course. Historically, most Indian EB5 investors apply for the programme to advance opportunities for their children to pursue higher studies and employment opportunities in the US. After the completion of studies and training, students with EB5 Visa are more favoured by the employers in the US because the employer is not required to sponsor the applicant as under the H-1B.
Apart from EB5 Visa, students can apply for F-1 (Student visa) and then apply for H1-B/L-1. F-1 Visa gives only 3 months to an international student to find a job in the US after graduation and register with USCIS. Additionally, students can enrol for Optional Training Program (OTP) of 12 months before they get employed. Students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) may receive longer employment benefits. The H1-B Visa is employer dependent as it is sponsored by US employers who hire foreign workers in a special occupation. These employers are subject to an annual quota limiting their capacity to hire foreign workers. The L-1 Visa is suitable for internal company transfer of an employee from a foreign office to the company’s US location(s). In all these Visa types, the waiting period for permanent residency/green card approval is more than10 years. According to the recent research, the backlog for these approvals is in excess of 70 plus years.
Most students and their families that are capable of making the appropriate investment in US projects, apply for the EB5 Visa instead of other types for reasons mentioned above. The current US political scenario is also a compelling reason for foreigners to opt for EB5 Visa for their children’s education in the US. Students can even beat retrogression and get their EB5 Visa on an expedited basis with the right guidance and help.