What is an EB-5 visa?
The EB-5 Visa was introduced in 1990 by the US Congress, with the objective to encourage foreign investment and boost the US economy. The EB-5 programme grants successful applicants with a green card, also known as US permanent residency. Under this programme, applicants are required to invest a refundable minimum amount of $800,000 in an approved EB-5 project which will then bolster job creation for the US economy. One single application can include the investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21 and eventually lead to US citizenship and a passport.
Why is EB-5 the best option for international students?
EB-5 visas offer a solution to most of the concerns of international students seeking to study in the US. Here are some of the most compelling reasons families from the UAE and across the GCC choose the EB-5 Programme over other US immigration routes. Lower tuition rates — It is well known that the tuition fees for international students in US universities can be exorbitantly high. US public universities offer varying tuition rates for in-state, out-of-state, and international students. In-state tuition is the rate students who are domiciled in a particular state will pay, while out-of-state tuition is the rate a resident of another state will pay. Finally, international rates are for those students who are not a resident of any state, and in other words, are international students. Unfortunately, international students pay on average three times more than domestic students. However, obtaining a green card through EB-5 and becoming a US permanent resident, can be a way for students to achieve domestic tuition rates. These savings can amount to more than $35,000 per year depending on the university, which can be particularly beneficial for families with multiple children or for children who will go on to do multiple degrees in the US. Access to financial aid and scholarships – Another appealing aspect of the EB-5 visa is the access it provides to scholarships and financial aid. Every foreign applicant to a US university is competing with students across the globe for a limited number of scholarships available. However, with an EB-5 Green Card, students are eligible to apply to a larger number of scholarships offered only to US residents, thus increasing the probability of being selected. The various states, US government, and schools also provide grants and zero per cent loans which are not available to international students but are accessible only for Green Card holders and US citizens.
No job limitation during education –
International students may face difficulties in finding positions both off-campus and on-campus during their education, whether paid or unpaid. First, F-1 students are limited in the number of hours they may work during their education, are sometimes limited to employment only on campus, and can many times only apply for unpaid positions.
Green card holders and US citizens are not subject to such restrictions and can work freely, thereby, allowing them to enter a greater employment pool, and also avail themselves of useful work experience opportunities that could help in obtaining employment post-graduation. For example, many of the top law firms in the US will only hire students who have worked for them summer upon summer as an intern.
No sponsorship required —Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a green card via the EB-5 programme, is that it removes all the stress of securing a work visa and employment after graduation. Many students become increasingly disappointed and frustrated when they find they are forced to leave the US after their studies have been completed and their OPT time expired, because they are unable to secure an employer to sponsor them or they are not selected in the H1-B lottery. At that time, parents rush to find solutions for their children to be able to stay and work in the US.
Rather than being reactive, a proactive approach via the EB-5 programme, allows children to obtain permanent residency so they do not have to worry about their status post-graduation and can focus on accelerated career growth. They can then remain head-to-head with their American peers rather than trying to find an employer willing to take on the extra administrative burden of sponsorship and an H1-B employee. With a green card in hand, one can take the time to find the right position from a career standpoint and negotiate the best salary, a luxury that foreign workers do not have.
When should students start the EB-5 visa process?
An application should be considered well before a child turns 18. It’s important to anticipate processing times and start the procedure as early as when a child starts high school, so that they will be ready to take full advantage of the benefits by the time they are ready to apply for university. While EB-5 is still one of the fastest and most efficient ways to obtain a US green card, the full process can still take a few years to come to fruition. Although, at Step Global, we do help many families looking for an urgent solution to have their children stay in the US post-graduation, we always encourage families in the region to plan ahead to avoid stressful situations.
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