Buy a house and get a Green Card?

I cannot tell you the number of times people have asked me whether they can get a green card simply by purchasing a house in the US.  Even yesterday I had to tell someone that buying a house does not create jobs, even if the house is worth over $500,000.00.  The EB5 program allows green cards with an investment of a minimum $500,000 but the requirements are stringent.  People are looking to invest in the US and I hear complaints about the difficulty of such investments that would not get residency.  The below news is a welcome idea to accommodate such foreign investors.  I don’t know whether this bill will pass, just like I have been waiting anxiously for the Start-Up Act to pass.  However, it is worth watching this space.  Below is an article from The Hill published today. – Tahmina

Senate housing bill would sell excess properties to foreign investors

By Vicki Needham – 10/20/11 04:20 PM ET

 Two senators introduced Thursday a bipartisan proposal to attract foreign investors to buy up an excess supply of homes that is weighing down the U.S. housing market. 

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced a plan that would offer a three-year residential visa to foreign homebuyers who invest at least $500,000. At least $250,000 must be spent on a primary residence where the visa holder will reside for at least 180 days out of the year while paying U.S. taxes.  The proposal has the possibility of clearing out “a very significant numbers of homes” to boost the sector that is “dragging our economy down,” Schumer told reporters Thursday during a conference call. 

“It won’t solve [the problem] single-handedly but it will make a real dent,” he said. 

In brief remarks before leaving on a flight, Robert Toll, head of Toll Brothers Builders, called the plan “novel and a good idea to help housing.”

Applicants would be subject to standard criminal and national security background checks and, once approved, would not be able to receive government benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  

“Our housing market will never begin a true recovery as long as our housing stock so greatly exceeds demand,” Schumer said. 

The program would not serve as a path to citizenship. 

Warren Buffett has supported the concept of enticing foreign homebuyers previously, Schumer said. 

The concept is part of a broad immigration package aimed at boosting foreign travel and investment in the United States. The bill would, for example, reduce barriers for Canadian and Chinese visitors whose consumer spending provides a lift to the U.S. economy. 

The bill would also expedite priority visa applicants, introduce video conferencing as a means to screening foreign nationals and make major changes to visa procedures for U.S. allies in the fight against al Qaeda.

 “This bill supports a free-market method for increasing demand for housing at a time when so many working-class Americans are underwater on their homes, are desperate for prices to rise again and big-government programs have failed to work,” Lee said. 

23 Comments on “Buy a house and get a Green Card?

    • Thanks for your question. I don’t know if the bill specifically addresses people on H1b. However, a large portion of my clients are on H1bs who have come to the end of their 6 year term and would greatly benefit from improved immigration laws. This certainly would be a benefit that should be open to everyone in investing in the US but we will have to wait and see what happens.

  1. The Senate would be better off to extend the EB5 program. These investors will have to create jobs with the investment. This will be a long term deal and not a one time purchase. Then the local citizens employed will be able to purchase homes.

    • I agree that extending the EB5 program is a better way forward. Alternatively, the EB6 visa proposed last year is also a good option in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. If this law is passed, soon USA will be so over populated by the Chinese people. The house price will be artificially increased all over again. The roads, schools, and infrastructure are not ready to accommodate over 10 billion people. See how crowded in Shanghai and Peking. Come on; please do not be so short sighted. This law will invite population overflow not only to compete jobs overseas but also to compete jobs inside the country. The only way to fix the problem is to create more jobs. Because, if you sold houses what else will you sell to save this country? So sad to see this great country to fall by the law makers who do not take responsibilities with long term strategic planning.

  3. if those investing 5oo k *usd into the american real estate market were turned down from medicaid,medicare and social security benefits besides not being able to obtain citizenship as you have put it,i think it(bill) is a bit lopsided.some care shown to asylum seekers and illegals(many who become citizens later) can also be shown towards resourceful people who would contribute.if it does’nt lead to citizenship how is it called a green card?isn’t a green card like a pr?i hope they do include citizenship after 5 years or something like that.

  4. I think USA senator should consider the investment amount based on strength of country, quality of people, Investment amount should be more for those countries who are reach & aganst USA. As $500000 is not really a small amount for third world countries so they should allow joint applicant example: two friends, two business partners, two brother, I mean two person can invest jointly to buy two house worth of $500000 and two family will get the offer facalities..

    USA govt. should encarage to spend 50% amount to buy a house & rest 50% to invest into direct business to creat some job. Finally if they wish to provide a greencard then they should provide full facalities not putting any terms & blockage.

  5. I’m a H1B visa holder, with an approved I140 (green card). I am not indian, i am not chineese, i am not mexican, I am not phillipino. I have been approved for 2 years, with possibly another 2-3 years wait at the minimum in my EB3 category. I have already bought a house in the US (been here 6 years). I already contribute to the economy. I have about a MILLION US $ in assets in my home country – but until I get my green card I will not be bringing that money to the US. The US immigration is ridiculous, you’re approved then have to wait and live in limbo for YEARS. If all approved foreigners such as myself bought our assets to this country, what a difference it would make.

  6. “The program would not serve as a path to citizenship”
    Since the Visa is for 3 years, why will some one buy a home to own for 3 years ? I understand may be they will be able to extend the visa but still when they know they have to leave country after some time – why will they take the risk ? Think about it – there is no motivation. If they buy a home and sell within short time (3-10 yrs) and the property hasn’t appreciated too much then it is a big loss. So only motivation some one has to invest that amount of money is only if they have little less uncertainty about how long they can stay and if there is a way to get a Green Card and later Citizenship. Otherwise ,its a no deal.

      • I couldn’t have agreed more with Mike here. This means you put in 500K into the economy and get to stay here(for 3 years only), and there’s literally no ROI. Is the foreign homebuyer expected to leave the country after 3year period?
        Even if this bill passes, I don’t think a great number of foreign homebuyers will fall for it – v.bad investment
        They need to include more incentives

  7. So, it’s give us your money and we will give you, well, not very much! The minimum I would want is a Green Card (so I had a Social Security number to quote to banks and others who seem to need it) and the flexibility to live in the nominated residence for however little time as I like, so I can travel around at will. Yes, I am newly retired!

  8. Hey, what happened to this bill is it passed or still pending? and what if it gets passed after you have already purchased a million dollar home while on H1B

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your question! I wish I could give you good news. There has been no progress at all on this bill. If and when it comes out, we will be able to tell whether you would be eligible. If there is any news on this bill, I will certainly post it to the blog.

  9. Pingback: Buy a house- get a US residence visa! | Watson Immigration Law Blog

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