The EB-5 visa is becoming very popular in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially among individuals who came to the UAE to escape turmoil in their home countries, using it as a base from which to quickly gain U.S. citizenship. Immigration lawyers and consultants are saying the growing demand is especially large among UAE residents who are from Iran, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.
"The U.S. government is helping them leave Iran faster and come to the U.S faster," said Armand Arton, chief executive and president of global financial advisory business, Arton Capital. "The UAE is becoming a hub for wealthy citizens from problematic countries who go on to migrate to other countries."
People can apply for the EB-5 if they are willing and able to invest $500,000 or $1 million in a business without borrowing any portion of it. There are also thousands of dollars in non-refundable U.S. lawyer fees involved in the application process. The Middle East has become the second biggest source of the EB-5 immigrant entrepreneur or investor visa category; the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allow 10,000 EB-5 investors a year.
One businessman says he is investing in the EB-5 visa because it means a better future, stability, and the promise of a good education for his children. He plans to settle in California once the visas for his family of five come through.
"It is not a lot of money for me since I am investing in my children's future," said the man.