Exploring the Differences Between H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa

Exploring the Differences between H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa image

Exploring the Differences between H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa

For an enterprise owner or an employee, the United States offers an incredible opportunity to fulfill their ambitions and live the great American dream. Throughout the centuries, people from all corners of the globe have traveled to this unique, wonderful country to find a new home and a new life. While global immigration was once as easy as jumping on a ship and seeing where you could sail to, in the modern world, many countries require a specific visa for a non-national to settle down. The USA is no different; there are a number of visas a prospective immigrant can apply for in order to move here. However, there are two in particular which find themselves in the press: H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa. What makes these two so alluring, and what are the differences all applicants need to be aware of? In the following article, we will explore these two issues in-depth.

H-1B Visa

For a prospective immigrant who has the right practical knowledge of a specialized subject, including science, engineering, finances, or IT, the H-1B Visa gives you the opportunity to find temporary employment in the US. It is classified as a ‘non-immigrant’ visa due to the fact it is for a temporary stay in the US, rather than a permanent move. Those awarded this visa have three years validity, which can be possibly extended for a further three years. However, six years is the maximum stay in total, and the visa cannot be extended again, but what makes this visa so popular with non-nationals is the fact that it is possible to change from the H-1B Visa to a Green Card.

H-1B Requirements

To apply for this visa, you must be sponsored by a valid business. Therefore, you need to have an offer of employment, further education, or an internship before you can submit your application.

The job you are applying for requires a university degree or equivalent. “Equivalent” can refer to three years and over of work experience for each year, which would have been spent in higher education.

The specialized fields include (but are not limited to):

  • Accountancy
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Medicine/Healthcare
  • Sciences
  • Architecture
  • Mathematics

An additional requirement comes from the potential employer; they must assure they will pay you a fair wage compared to other employees with similar qualifications, known as prevailing wage. It can be a problematic aspect to determine, and it is one of the most common reasons an application can run into challenging ground.

The H-1B Cap

Much like the EB-5 Visa, the H-1B is subject to an annual visa cap each fiscal year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service begins to accept applicants on the first business day of April every year, but it only offers a total of 85,000 visas. This number is split between those applicants who have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and those who hold a Master’s degree or higher: 65,000 for the former, 20,000 for the latter. Unfortunately, this rather low number of available visas means that they are snapped up very quickly. Those who submit an application should be aware that they are highly unlikely to be successful.

Those who submit an H1-B application should be aware that they are highly unlikely to be successful.

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The Current State of the H-1B

In the fiscal year of 2018-2019, the first week alone saw nearly 200,000 applications received. This isn’t a surprise either, as it’s the 16th year in a row where such a significant overload of applications were submitted. To cope with such demand, the USCIS created a lottery to determine and select successful applicants. This process was officially called “Computer-generated Random Selection Process” and involved exactly what the name suggests: every applicant is entered into a system, which uses a random selection algorithm to choose successful visa petitions. For the upcoming fiscal year, it is highly likely the lottery system will remain in place as the applications show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

EB-5 Visa

Unlike H-1B, the EB-5 Visa is a permanent residence by investment program, rather than a temporary employee program. The US Congress created this particular visa program in 1990 with as aim to stimulate the economic growth of the US through foreign investments. Congress expanded the EB-5 program by creating the regional center program in 1992 which allowed regional centers to exist. As a pilot scheme, it was initially intended to run for five years, but on January 25th, 2019, the regional center program received its 19th extension. Known as the “Immigrant Investors” program, EB-5 enables foreign nationals to invest a minimum of $500,000 into a targeted employment area, or $1 million into a commercial enterprise outside of a TEA. This allows the investor to apply for a Green Card, bringing to the country their spouse and qualified children (under 21 without previously being married). While it receives its fair share of bad press, there is a lot more to this visa than first meets the eye.

EB-5 Requirements

To apply and receive an EB-5 Visa, the applicants must invest a minimum of $500,000 into a targeted employment area for-profit commercial enterprise. “Targeted employment area” is an area which is rural or an area which experiences high levels of unemployment. It also refers to an area that is the outer boundary of any town or city which has a population of 20,000 or more.

However, it is worth knowing that, for an applicant to invest in a commercial enterprise which is not within a targeted employment area, the minimum investment capital rises to $1 million.

This enterprise must conduct ongoing lawful business. This business can include (but is not limited to) the following business setups:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust

In the commercial enterprise, the investor must employ at least 10 full-time positions for Americans citizens.

An investor must also be able to prove they are the legal owner of the capital which they are opting to use.

The Current State of the EB-5 Program

The EB-5 visa is growing in popularity, and there’s a good reason why! Since the beginning of this program, it has enabled thousands of investors to settle into America and boosted the American economy far greater than it could have achieved without them. Without the initiative, thousands of legal US residents would not have been able to enjoy the great American dream. What’s more, the program gives the investor the chance to make a difference in rural neighborhoods, or areas of high unemployment, by creating a new life and opportunities for the whole community.

What’s interesting to note is this visa category only accepts 10,000 people per year. However, included within this 10,000 number is the successful applicant and their qualified family members. The applicant’s family can consist of their spouse and any children (including stepchildren) who are under the age of 21 at the time of filing the application. Additionally, each country is only allowed 7% of the overall 10,000 successful applicants.

However, there are current reforms being discussed for this visa, that are calling for the minimum investment for targeted employment areas to be raised from $500,000 to $1.35 million, and the minimum investment of $1 million to rise to $1.8 million for commercial enterprises. For the past 28 years, the investment requirements for EB-5 Visa has not taken into account the inflation rate; these proposed reforms seek to remedy that.

Conclusion

There’s no denying that both of the above visas are incredibly “pro-business” for the US economy. There are calls for reforms, but each offers a new life and the chance to enjoy all this bold and beautiful land has to offer. The EB-5, however, would seem to be preferable due to the fact it doesn’t just change the investor’s life; but it affects an entire community and the country as a whole. By investing a minimum of $500,000 into the American workforce, tens of thousands of jobs are created every year which otherwise might not have been. Americans have the opportunity to strive and the freedom to achieve true job success, which they truly love, and gives the ability to transform their lives.

 

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