US closes door to Chinese investors hoping to emigrate as annual quota reached

Cancellation of Canada's immigration investment scheme sends number of US visas to the annual limit until October 1

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 11:31am

Chinese investors planning to emigrate to the US on an investment scheme will have to wait for more than one month to apply, as the quota for Chinese under the Immigrant Investor Programme has been reached for the current fiscal year.

The limit for Chinese immigrant investors under the programme in each fiscal year is 10,000. This was the first time the quota was reached before the end of a fiscal year, analysts say, which reflects a growing number of Chinese investors who plan to emigrate to the US.

According to a report on American Immigration Lawyers Association’s website, Charles Oppenheim, chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the US State Department said in a conference on Saturday that as of that day the programme would be unavailable to Chinese until the federal government’s new fiscal year begins on October 1.

“The number of applicants is growing, and some of them have to wait for two or three months,” said a Shanghai-based consultant who identified herself only by the surname Xie. She helps prospective emigrants with their visa applications.

Immigration consultants in Beijing and Chengdu, Sichuan, confirmed Xie’s observation, saying they have seen more and more people applying for American investor immigration visas in recent years. Figures show the number of Chinese immigrant investors in the US has grown, as well.

To qualify as an immigrant investor, a foreigner must invest at least US$500,000 in a qualifying commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs for US citizens. The State Department says nearly 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are issued annually to people from all countries.

A Beijing-based consultant who gave her surname as Wang said most wealthy Chinese preferred the US as it is more developed.

“They would emigrate to America because of its education. Also, they are worried about the safety of their wealth, as well as food safety and environment pollution in China,” Wang said.

Another factor was the Canadian government’s scrapping of its immigrant investment programme earlier this year.

“They [wealthy Chinese] became very concerned after Canada halted the programme. They were afraid that they would not be able to eventually emigrate to North America,” Wang said.

Wang added that although investor emigrants had to wait for three to four years to get an American green card, most investors still prefer the US than European countries such as Portugal, where permanent residency can be granted within one year.