New Proposed Bill Would Offer Temporary Visas for Foreign Residential Real Estate Investors

A new legislative bill introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) proposes to offer a temporary residency visa to immigrants who spend at least $500,000 on a home in the United States. This bill, which received bipartisan support, will soon be considered by the U.S. Congress as a new way to stimulate a struggling U.S. housing market.

While not the same as the noted EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa program, which offers a path to citizenship for foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. business enterprise that leads to at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers, the newly proposed housing bill will provide a new and novel method for foreign nationals to enter and remain in the U.S. through investment.

The U.S. housing market is currently struggling; this new, proposed bill may give a boom to this market. In areas of the U.S. especially hurt by the recession, such as South Florida, Southern California and Arizona, many foreign nationals are currently purchasing homes. Immigrants from China, Canada and other nations are now taking advantage of favorable exchange rates and reasonable real estate costs in these and other areas of the U.S. In fact, just over 5 percent of all homes bought in Miami in July 2011 were purchased by foreign buyers. In Phoenix, that number is just a bit lower, at 4.3 percent. For the year ending in March 2011, foreign buyers were responsible for up to $82 billion in investments in U.S. real estate properties, an increase from the $66 billion reported the year before.

Current market analysts see many advantages to the U.S. economy from the Schumer-Lee bill, if approved by Congress and the President. Under the proposed bill, immigrants will need to invest at least $500,000 in U.S. residential real estate. This can be a house, condo or townhouse. Applicants are given the opportunity to invest part of the required $500,000 on a single home and the rest on other residential real estate property, such as a rental home.

These investors would then be given temporary, three-year visas to enter the U.S. Under this particular visa, however, foreign investors will not be able to work. They will have to obtain other visas to be able to work while in the U.S. (such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa). Supporters of the bill believe it will help spearhead growth in the U.S. real estate market, which has been struggling since the housing market bubble burst earlier this decade.

The bill has received support from many high-profile individuals, including Warren Buffet who recently told Charlie Rose (of PBS) that, “If you wanted to change your immigration policy so that you let 500,000 families in, but they have to have a significant net worth and everything, you’d solve things very quickly.”

Darren Silver – Darren Silver & Associates is one of the largest and most respected Immigration Firms in the Country. For over 15 years we have represented clients from around the world, including Professionals, large multinational corporations, small businesses, celebrities, athletes, and those individuals who require immigration assistance for their families.