“A large number of Indian Students intend to stay back in the United States to pursue their desired career path. While the H1B Visa has continued to remain a popular choice amongst international students, many have come to realize its downfalls and are keen on finding an alternative”
Housing some of the world’s most prestigious universities and faculty members, the US attracted over one million international students in 2019-2020. Indian students are the second largest filer of Student Visa applications after China.
A large number of Indian Students intend to stay back in the United States to pursue their desired career path. While the H1B Visa has continued to remain a popular choice amongst international students, many have come to realize its downfalls and are keen on finding an alternative. A lottery-based visa program, the H1B does not consider the applicant’s merits or skills. Moreover, the program only offers limited access to infrastructure and benefits, keeping the dream of acquiring a Green Card at a constant arm’s length. As more students and their parents understand the prospects or the lack thereof through the traditional H1B route, they are increasingly opting for the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5 or Employment-Based Fifth Category Visa is an investor visa program wherein foreign nationals can invest a minimum amount of USD 9 lakh (approximately INR 6.75 crore) in the US to attain a Green Card. For High Net worth Individuals and their children, the program has proven to be a blessing, owing to the multitude of benefits that it offers. The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program is one of the fastest for international students to acquire a legal permanent residency in the US. Students can make their investment individually or the entire family can apply for the visa as each application covers – the investor, their spouse and children under the age of 21.
Here are a few reasons why this route is beneficial for students in the long run:
Higher Acceptance Rate to Schools
The world of education is more cut-throat than ever today. International students have to compete for the foreign quota on seats, significantly reducing their chances of getting selected. The percentage of acceptance of international students in universities such as MIT, Harvard, Brown, Yale, Berkeley, etc., is infinitesimal compared to domestic applicants. As an international student with an EB-5 Green Card, one gets to fairly compete for a spot in the most prestigious universities as an American resident. This gives them a fighting chance of getting admitted to a school of their choosing.
Education in the US is expensive. Most international students have to pay a premium fee to gain admission. The tuition for citizens and permanent residents is lower than for international students.
Access to government aid and a larger pool of scholarships
International students on an EB-5 green card may have access to government aid and scholarships that are not open to international students. This gives them an edge over other international students who compete for a smaller quota of merit-based aid and scholarships with a larger overseas student population.
Better Internship And Employment opportunities
Acquiring a Green Card through the EB-5 Visa process increases internship opportunities for international students. A lot of companies do not like to invest their time and resources in international students because of uncertainty surrounding work visas. Therefore, they prefer to offer internships to U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders. Also, International students and international workers are competing to get a job at organizations that are willing to file an H1B Visa or other work permit application for them. Citizens and Green Card Holders have a much larger pool of employers to choose from since they are not restricted to a visa sponsoring entity. This also has an impact on salary negotiations, promotions and change in job profiles.
Further, upon graduation 2/3rds of H1B visa applicants do not make the lottery and have to leave the United States. For the 1/3rd that are successful in getting a visa life is still challenging. H1B Visa holders are under constant monitoring by USCIS and must inform the authorities about the change in an organisation, office location, job profile etc. Also, if an H1B Visa holder is fired and fails to find another employer he/she is forced to exit the United States. An Indian Born H1B Visa Holder has to wait decades to acquire an employment-based green card compared to a few years in case of an EB-5 Visa Petition. An approved EB-5 Visa Petition rids the international students from their dependence on an employer to live and work in the United States.
Path to Citizenship
EB-5 Visa grants a direct Green Card to applicants as opposed to other visa categories. Once the EB-5 applicant receives a Green Card, they can apply for Citizenship after the expiration of 5 years and on meeting certain conditions.
For High Net worth Families based in India, EB-5 Visa is increasingly becoming a preferred route to settle their children in the United States and to avoid the uncertainties surrounding H1B visa.