IMMIGRATION

9,000 Chinese Paid At Least $500,000 Last Year To Live In The US

Mar 20, 2015 at 12:50 PM ET

Every year, about more than 9.2 million people from around the world enter America’s Green Card lottery. If they are one of about 50,000 names picked at random, they get a free pass to legally resettle in the U.S. But there’s also another way to get the doors to the U.S. to open: cough up half-a-million dollars. And the Chinese are taking full advantage of it.

More than 9,000 Chinese immigrants basically bought their way into America last year. Chinese citizens were issued roughly 40 times more investor visas (also known as EB-5 visas) than any other country. South Korea was second, with just 225 immigrant investor visas. Five countries — China, South Korea, Vietnam, China (Taiwan-born) and Mexico — accounted for a staggering 90 percent of all investor visas issued in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of State.

So how do people qualify for these? Without borrowing any money, foreign nationals have to invest a minimum of a million dollars in the United States, or $500,000 in a high-unemployment, rural area. People who qualify for EB-5 visas do face regular evaluations and must meet certain job creation and investment requirements, but they do get a pretty good head start on the path to full citizenship if they meet the conditions of the visa.