As the U.S. Senate considers a bipartisan bill that would grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, the Heritage Foundation released a study on Monday that estimated a cost of $6.3 trillion to taxpayers for the amnesty program.  The rise in government expenditures is attributed to entitlement programs in which studies show immigrant households receive more welfare benefits than ordinary homes.

However, the Senate is also considering revisions to America’s visa program that are going unreported in the mainstream media.  Capitol Hill is exploring lifting limits on investment visas, often referred to as the “millionaire’s visa,” in which EB-5 visas are granted to wealthy international financiers who pour in much needed capital into the U.S. economy for the purpose of creating American jobs.

Senators are considering proposals that would increase the number of EB-5 visas that can be handed out each year from the current 10,000.  A higher limit would also exclude family members which means U.S. borders could soon open up to the world’s wealthy investors.  Additionally, some members of congress are pushing to make the millionaire’s visa a permanent federal program instead of one that requires congressional extension on a regular basis.

Credit: Commons/Wikimedia
Credit: Commons/Wikimedia

Investment banks are also increasing their lobbying efforts in the nation’s capital, according to the Washington Post.

The EB-5 program was created by Congress in 1990 and grants visas to foreign investors who invest at least $1 million in capital — or $500,000 in high-unemployment or rural areas — in the United States.  Between 2006 and 2012, the number of such visas granted to foreign investors and their families jumped to 7,641 from 802, according to the State Department.

Most immigrants in residing in the United States are Hispanic or Mexican in heritage.  However, the EB-5 visas are granted predominantly to Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern investors. According to the Wall Street Journal, 80 percent of the EB-5 visas issued in 2012 were given to investors from China.

The popularity in EB-5 investors has been partly due to the difficulty in obtaining loans and lines of credit from U.S. banks.  Thus, the program is seen as an alternative method for financing the capital requirements of American businesses.

Investment banks have recently been providing support services to help wealthy individuals obtain the millionaire’s visa.  For instance, bankers such as Abbas Hasmi act as a conduit between Middle Eastern investment offices and U.S. businesses requiring capital.

Hasmi’s firm specializes in connecting Family Offices with hundreds of millions of dollars in dry powder with U.S. entrepreneurs.  “I . . . bring international investment capital to [the] U.S. by using [the] EB-5 investor program.  This program enables US businesses to seek cheaper capital from non US investors by providing them US green card at a very favorable investment offering.  My new firm will focus on connecting these businesses with global investors.”

Opponents of the millionaire’s visa argue that the program is nothing more than the federal government selling green cards to those who can afford it.  Critics charge that, for a million dollars, foreign investors can circumvent a long waiting list for legally entering the United States.

With a looming amnesty bill that awards a path to citizenship for at least 11 million illegal immigrants, those charges could be rendered moot.  Why deny foreign capital access to U.S. markets when illegals will be granted amnesty anyway?

With an extremely weak economy featuring 7.5 percent unemployment and U.S. businesses having a difficult time obtaining financing from banks, the EB-5 program could soon see increases in the number of visas being doled out.  According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as long as 10 jobs can be created or saved within two years of a $500,000 investment, a green card will be rewarded.