Immigrant Investor Visa Proves Popular With State Legislators, But Outside Their Control

Sep 16, 2013

Legislators in Washington State are showing enthusiasm for a federal immigration program that gives green cards to wealthy foreign investors. But state officials discovered during a workshop on Friday that the options for expanding foreign investment in this way are largely outside their control.

American Life, Inc. President Greg Steinhauer testifies to the Washington State Legislative Committee on Economic Development & International Relations.
Credit Tom Banse

There's a little known back door into the United States, available only to the affluent. It's called the immigrant investor visa or EB-5. Foreigners can get green cards for themselves and immediate family by sinking at least half a million dollars into a business here. Each investment has to create or save at least 10 jobs. Policymakers like the idea of creating jobs at no cost to the public. One of the immigration middlemen at a field workshop in Everett, Washington was Greg Steinhauer, president of American Life, Inc. A legislator asked him what can the state do to boost this kind of investment.

Steinhauer: "Put pressure on Congress to (renew) the program and streamline it and stop being so capricious in the way they issue rulings and interpretation of the laws."

Steinhauer and other property developers say controversy around immigration is creating uncertainty, and uncertainty is bad for business.

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