‘Investors see more stability in prices due to the US economy’s wide base’
Founded in 2010, the U.S. Immigration Fund (USIF) provides opportunities for foreign investors and their families to obtain permanent U.S. residency through the EB-5 Visa Program. The EB-5 programme, launched by the US government in 1990, enables high net worth foreign investors to obtain a US visa for themselves and their family by investing a minimum of USD 5,00,000 in a US business that help boost economy while creating at least ten jobs for American workers. USIF, which is in the business of raising EB-5 capital, aims to raise $125mn in foreign investment from India over the next 15 months by helping 250 Indian investors immigrate to the United States. This money that will be deployed in various ongoing and upcoming commercial and residential real estate projects in the US by leading developers, says Nicholas Mastroianni II, Chairman and CEO, USIF. Edited excerpts:
Has anything changed in Trump era? The perception is that it’s not easy to stay in the US any longer.
The Trump regime is pro-legal immigration. The problem is with illegal immigration. They are all for promoting initiatives that create stimulus for economy and more jobs for Amercians, and bring foreign investment ‘back’ to the country. The EB-5 visa program benefits all the stakeholders - while it promotes investment in US real estate projects that fuel the country’s economy, it helps many families live in the place of their choice by fast tracking their citizenship process.
The big American dream of ownership of more homes and even cars is now giving way to an idea of minimalist living, renting and leasing options. With the emergence of the new ‘Uber’ generation, analysts predict that a few years from now, people may not actually be interested in purchasing either homes or cars. Do you think things are getting redefined in the context of changing social and economic values?
The fact of the matter is that till date, 75% of our H1B category is bought by Indians with the recent number being 110,000 H1B visas.
The Trump administration has categorically indicated that it does not want US jobs to be given away to foreigners and hence H1B is not an option. Hence comes the concept of EB-5 visa program that allows foreigners to study in the US, buy houses, and make a life in the country of their choice. There is growing interest in this Program from three categories of people in India, but particularly students, business entrepreneurs and professionals.
The U.S. Congress created the EB5 Program in 1990 to enable high net worth Foreign Investors to obtain a U.S. Visa by investing in a U.S. business that will benefit your economy. What are the benefits of EB5 Investment Program for Indians?
The best part is that it is for the entire family. The wife, kids below 21 years are also eligible to migrate to US and there is no waiting list for Indians. Even though for China, it is for seven years. The EB-5 is one of the fastest ways to immigrate to US. It allows you the flexibility to live and work anywhere in the US. No sponsorship is needed from employer or family member and one can move freely. Also with H1B visa, you are paid much less, whilst with EB-5, you can be earning double the amount.
What’s driving demand for US residential properties for Indians steady returns and the fact that prices are still near the bottom?
US properties offer appreciation and stability, both. The US dollar is a hedge against the dropping rupee and the dropping yen. Some non-US investors prefer to get country diversification by picking up property in the US. Not only do they get an asset in a foreign country, but the asset is denominated in US dollars, which is still the currency of choice around the globe. Given the diversity and wide base of the US economy, investors see more stability in prices.
It seems Chinese nationals are biggest buyers of residential property followed by Canadians, British, Mexicans and Indians. What are the characteristic differences in buying patterns and preferences?
The Chinese love to invest in hi-value properties and they are seen investing in the range of 3 million dollars upwards. They go for key addresses and love the New York city. Mexicans like to buy down south, in areas such as Dallas, Florida, Texas, that are closer and connected to Mexico. The Indians like spacious homes in the suburbs and neighbourhoods and they are not very particular about addresses. They know their numbers like no one else does and are smart investors. They are extremely demanding and want to understand the details much unlike the Chinese who just pay up.
Nicholas Mastroianni II