Chinese spent $24B on investor visas over last decade

US granted about 40K visas, collected at least $7.7B: report

More than 100,000 Chinese nationals spent at least $24 billion on foreign visa programs over the last decade, a new analysis found.

The United States’ EB-5 program accounts for at least $7.7 billion of that and more than 40,000 visas issued since 2007, according to the Associated Press. But countries like Canada, Australia, and even Hungary have or once had robust programs of their own. Canada, for example, ended its national program in 2014, but issued 35,278 investor visas, totaling an estimated $4.3 billion in Chinese money that came through the national program as well as regional programs.

The barrier for entry differs greatly from country to country. While $500,000 is the entry-level investment for a visa in the U.S., it only takes $100,000 in several Caribbean countries. And in Australia, you’ll need at least $5 million Australian dollars (about $3.7 million USD) to get a visa. Although that may sound high, the country has had no trouble finding investors and has pulled in more than $6 billion in Chinese investment in just the last four years. Capital controls by the Chinese government, however, could make what seems like an ever-cresting wave of outflowing cash from China finally begin to break.

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In the U.S., the EB-5 program is at a crossroads. Although it’s been extended until September, the Department of Homeland Security may soon begin rolling out strict reforms first put into the pipeline under President Barack Obama, which would put pressure on Congress to come up with a more long-term solution for the program. Competition from other countries is just one factor frequently cited by pro-EB-5 lobbyists who oppose the proposed reforms.

Earlier this month, Nicole Kushner Meyer, White House adviser Jared Kushner’s sister, drew attention for appearing to promote her family’s connections to the White House in an EB-5 pitch for a Kushner Companies tower in New Jersey. The company later apologized for the incident and has since cut short its promotional China road show. [AP]  — Will Parker