Green card scheme and falling dollar attracting Indian investment in US

Bargain prices in US real estate are attracting a large number of wealthy Indian investors who can also benefit from an extension to the fast track green card system regarding residency.

‘This is definitely the time to buy as the falling dollar and prices reaching bottom and in some cases starting to recover make the US a very attractive investment,’ said Sachin Patel, managing director of real estate development company American Life.

The fact that the US administration has recently extended the regional centre investment programme which allows investors a fast track to US green cards and permanent residency by three years is also encouraging investment.

Under the scheme investors who put in $1 million into designated regional centre real estate projects and create at least 10 jobs in the US are entitled to green cards along with their families. If they are willing to put money into a business carried out on in a designated backward area, the investment required is even lower at $500,000.

The programme is attracting a large number of hospitality entrepreneurs from India who are keen on setting up shop in the US. Many also have strong family links in the US.

‘There are several schemes on offer where you merely have to invest money and in return you get a green card without having to actively participate in the business. For those who are looking at moving to the US to run a motel or store there, the reduced property prices are a big attraction too, as they can get more value for their dollar investments,’ explained Mumbai based immigration lawyer Sudhir Shah.

The scheme, though proving to be very attractive, is however not without glitches. Proving that the funds available for investment are from lawful sources can be a challenge for some Indian investors.

‘In the case of agricultural income, this problem becomes a big one, since it is not subject to tax in India and in many cases there is no documented record. Land records, in many cases, continue to be in the name of ancestors, which makes it difficult to prove ownership. Therefore, when the land is sold resulting in an amount that could potentially be used for investments it is difficult to prove the lawful source of money,’ said lawyer Poorvi Chothani.


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