24 October 2011

Congress flags possible new route to America visa

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A bill will be proposed in the US Senate which would see residency rights extended to foreign owners of US property, indicating a possible new route to an America visa.

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A bill will be proposed in the US Senate which would see residency rights extended to foreign owners of US property.

Two members of the US Senate - Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) and Mike Lee (Republican, Utah) - are leading the charge for a new approach to stimulating the US housing market which could lead to a new migration path to the United States.

Under the proposal, foreign investors would purchase property in the United States worth more than $500,000 in exchange for residency rights and an America visa. The idea is part of a wider framework for attracting investment in the property market co-authored by Senators Schumer and Lee.

"This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel," Schumer told the Wall Street Journal.

Senator Schumer added that the adoption of this bill would "complement existing visa programs that allow foreigners to enter the US if they invest in new businesses that create jobs".

While passage of the bill would mean a new path to migration, the bill also stipulates a number of strict eligibility requirements.

"Unfortunately there are a whole lot of caveats that will limit the scope of that potential buying population," said CNBC real estate commentator Diana Olick.

"This is not a work visa, and the buyer has to live in the residence for at least six months out of the year," she said.

"That means said buyer would not be able to work in the US for half the year; translation, said buyer would have to be really rich".

According to the US National Association of Realtors, Canadians are the largest group of foreign US property owners, followed by Chinese, Mexican and British investors and homeowners.

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