This article was originally published on the Seattle Homes Blog:
Vancouver, British Columbia has been a favorite international destination of Chinese real estate investors for decades. Immigration laws in Canada have allowed for wealthy foreign investors to “buy” citizenship through a direct investment in the domestic economy, and Vancouver was the poster child for Asian investment.
That investment appeal is now shifting South toward Seattle, as Canada’s immigration policies have abruptly changed this year and altered the benefits of buying in these two nearby cities. Canada has ended their policy of granting citizenship to foreign investors, while the United States has recently streamlined its investment program, allowing for an easier route to a “green card” for foreigners.
The U.S.’s EB-5 program has been in existence for years, but its application and review process had previously been painstakingly slow. Created to generate job growth, its applications numbered only in the hundreds per year and investors were wary of being tied up in bureaucracy. Recent changes to the program promise to cure those bottlenecks, though, and as applications are now rising into the thousands per year, it appears that the timing couldn’t be better with the change in international interest.
In the simplest terms, the EB-5 requires foreign investors to:
- Make a $1,000,000 investment
- Create or preserve 10 jobs locally
There are some exceptions, but these rules apply to most applicants. The applicants receive in return:
- Conditional permanent resident visas for applicant and dependents
- 2 years to prove the creation of those jobs and the investment
As thousands of applications pour in every year now, the numbers will likely balloon as Chinese investment shifts to the Puget Sound region. Real estate prices are significantly lower in Seattle than they are in Vancouver, and the ability to buy a luxury home, get a world-class education for your children, and live in a healthy, beautiful, and safe area like Greater Seattle is unmatched. Foreign home buyers on the Eastside already make up a significant portion of the buying market today. The trend will likely accelerate moving forward if the immigration policies of the two countries continue on their current courses.