Vietnamese investors are increasingly gaining on China as a significant source of participants in a foreign investment initiative by the United States that provides green cards for investing in U.S. real estate, The Wall Street Journal reports. The program, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, offers green cards to those who invest in job-creating U.S. businesses or real estate projects. The percentage of EB-5 visas issued to Vietnamese nationals has surged 693 percent in the past fiscal year.
About 20 percent of current EB-5 investments in U.S. real estate now come from Vietnam, according to estimates from the U.S. Immigration Fund. Four years ago, Vietnamese barely accounted for 1 percent of these visas. But Vietnamese’s latest rise is now catching them up to other strong EB-5 investor populations, behind 25 percent of participants coming from India and 30 percent from China.
Realizing the stronger allure, several New York City developers are advertising their projects to Vietnamese investors through local agencies, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“In the past, any large-scale capital raise, anything over $50 million or $100 million, particularly in New York, you had to go to China,” Phuong Le, an immigration attorney and partner at David Hirson & Partners LLP, told The Wall Street Journal. Now, “most of the big New York real estate developers who were in China before are certainly all in Vietnam now.”
However, as wait periods for EB-5 visas have grown from months to years, some Chinese investors have pulled back.
Vietnam’s booming economy and its growing class of wealthy business owners have made the country a new source for the EB-5 program. However, the estimated visa wait time—up to 7.2 years as of last October—could be a hurdle that discourages more foreign investors from taking advantage, experts say.