14 February 2012

1990 US visa programme continues to benefit American economy

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President Obama last month gave the US State Department 60 days to formulate a new plan in order to allow Chinese tourists easier access to the country but another programme has already been benefitting the US economy with Chinese wealth.

American visa

While the State Department tries to come up with a plan to attract Chinese tourists, a programme passed by Congress has been paying dividends.

The EB-5 class of US visa was established in 1990 by the US Congress in an attempt to stimulate the then-faltering economy. The programme is an immigrant investor scheme which allows foreign nationals to obtain a greencard if they are willing to invest at least $500,000 (£320,000) in the American economy.

And as the US economy is once again in uncertain times, President Obama announced in January that he wanted to attract new wealthy Chinese tourists, who have been shown to spend an average $6,250 (£3,240) on holiday, more than any other nationality.

The US ranks number one on most Chinese tourists' dream destinations but due to convoluted and prolonged visa application processes, many are choosing to visit other destinations with more relaxed restrictions such as Paris and Sydney.

President Obama, keen to correct this, has given the State Department 60 days to formulate new US immigration policy which will allow Chinese tourists a quicker route to an American holiday.

While these measures are hoped to bring in an extra £850 billion (£540 billion) before 2020 it is Congress's original investor scheme that is benefitting the US economy right now.

Recent figures released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revealed that 934 Chinese nationals in 2011 alone acquired EB-5 visas and contributed over $460 million (£292 million) to the American economy.

The figures were collected by a Beijing newspaper which claimed that China, the world's fastest growing economy, allowed over £1 billion a year to leave the country with over 80% of wealthy investors flocking to the US, Canada and Australia in search of better schooling and a higher standard of life.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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