US to suspend certain visas for Vietnamese nationals

The US will temporarily cease the issuance of a number of investment and religious worker visas for Vietnamese citizens from March 23.

The country's EB-5 investor visa has four categories. The I5 visa is set aside for investors who participate in an investor pilot program in a targeted area; the R5 is for investors who participate in an investor pilot program not in a target area; the C5 is for investors who create jobs outside of target areas; and the T5 is for investors who create jobs in targeted rural or high unemployment areas.

The EB-5 visa program has seen growing interests from Vietnamese rich people over the past few years.

Those who have been scheduled for an interview for SR (religious worker), I5 or R5 visas will not be allowed to reschedule after March 23, according to a report from the US embassy in Hanoi.

“SR, I5 and R5 visas may only be issued prior to March 23, 2018.  After this date, no SR, I5 or R5 visas may be issued until this program is reauthorized by the US Congress,” the report said.

The EB-5 visa program has attracted growing interest from rich Vietnamese people in recent years. Under the program, entrepreneurs, their spouses and unmarried children under 21 are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the US, and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.

Under the program, there are two minimum qualifying investment rates: US$1 million as the general rate, and US$500,000 for investors in a high-unemployment or rural area in the US, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

About 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued each year, of which 85% go to Chinese nationals, the Washington Post quoted federal data compiled by Invest in the USA, an EB-5 trade association, as saying. Vietnam, India, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Iran and Venezuela follow as the next-largest contributors.

India’s Business Line reported that the number of Vietnamese people who emigrated to the US under the EB-5 visa program increased from 288 in the 2015-2016 period to 404 in the 2016-2017 period.

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