Investment visas have both positives and negatives.  Used properly, they can help the United States a great deal.  Incorrectly monitored, with folks who are poorly vested, they can cause significant problems.

Under the program described as “Investment Visas” entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card if they:

– Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States: and

– Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

Congress created this program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.  Our government had good intentions when creating this program, and correctly administered, it has many benefits.

If properly administered, these visas provide for resources coming in to our country.  Those who receive visas under this program must invest either one mission dollars in this business enterprise, or, if investing in a high-unemployment area, $500,000.  That’s a good thing.  Our economy can use as much foreign investment coming in as possible.  It would definitely benefit our country if more local jobs are created.

Those who receive these visas also must provide, or protect, a minimum of 10 U.S. jobs within the first two years they are here.  These must be full-time jobs, at a time when many of those are disappearing from our economy. Providing jobs for our citizens is a good thing.  Offering consumers more local options is a good thing.  Supporting the local economy and, through taxes, local government, is a good thing.

This visa program also allows us to attract entrepreneurs from around the world.  Not everyone is successful enough to be able to afford to move to the United States, and also have enough resources to be able to invest the way these visas require.  We want to attract the best and brightest from around the world, and this is one way we can do that.  This, on the surface, seems to create a win-win-win situation.  The immigrant benefits by making their desired move to the United States.  The U.S. wins through jobs, attracted investment, and a larger tax base.  Locals win by having more jobs.

There is a huge potential drawback to this program, however.  It provides a way for people with money to move to the head of the line when it comes to immigrating to the United States.  Success and resources does not guarantee morality and ethics.  It is very possible that some of the world’s biggest crooks might be able to use this opportunity to find a new target audience and new victims.  Wealth does not guarantee good citizens.

There is another problem with this program as well.  It would be very easy for a foreign government, or others who wish us harm, to use investment visas as a backdoor to the United States.  Those with money might be able to use this program to sneak some into this country who want nothing more than to harm us.  It is a very real possibility.

Investment visas are great.  They provide some good opportunities for the most successful around the world.  They can be used to help U.S. citizens with jobs.  They can help bring foreign investment into our economy. They must be closely monitored, however, or they can easily be used as Trojan Horses.