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Your Take: Residence Visa to Foreigners Who Buy $500,000+ Homes

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Here’s something interesting that I read last week – a new approach to our housing problem. It’s a bill co-authored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and it would offer a residence visa to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on a residential home – a single family house, condo or townhouse. It’s not a completely novel bill, there are similar ones offered to foreigners who invest in businesses that create jobs in the United States, and it takes great care not to disturb the current visa program (the bill would create a new set of visas).

I believe it’s great that we’re trying to “solve” our real estate problem with something other than taxpayer money. While I understand there will be unintended consequences, there always are, I think we should be happy that our politicians are trying new approaches.

What concerns do I have? The most obvious is the reality that money can now jump you to the front of the line if you want a residence visa. I know little about the process but I do know that visas are a pain to get and now half a million dollars gets you in. I suppose if I were part of an exclusive club (US citizenship), charging half a million bucks to get in works out well for me. Just not the same folks you expected based on Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty.

That said, I’m eager to see where this goes. What do you think?

{ 23 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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23 Responses to “Your Take: Residence Visa to Foreigners Who Buy $500,000+ Homes”

  1. Texas Wahoo says:

    Without reading the actual bill, do the foreigners have to put a certain amount of money down? What if they take out a huge mortgage to purchase the house and then default on it? Do they lose their VISA?

  2. Mike says:

    And if you can’t afford the $500,000 house to get into America, you can always come through the southern border illegally. If you’re lucky, the President might even grant you “a pathway to citizenship”.

  3. Scott says:

    If what I heard about the bill is correct, they qualify for a residential visa and not a work visa; therefore, they can live in the U.S., but can’t work. I think this bill is directly targeted at wealthy foreigners interested in buying NYC trophy properties. Schumer’s just looking to prop up home prices in NYC and not really concerned about what’s best for America.

    • freeby50 says:

      Thats entirely unfair and baseless to declare that he doesn’t care about whats good for America. Do you think that the bills co-sponsor Mike Lee (R-Utah) also doesn’t care about America and only cares about NYC??

  4. Husker Avid says:

    Call me a cockeyed cynic–but really–people wait for years to get a visa. This bill says come on down if you have the cash. It turns my stomach. Are the representatives related to underemployed realtors?

    • gmcord says:

      I agree. Having money doesn’t necessarily make one a good immigrant any more than not having money makes a person a bad immigrant.

  5. Ed says:

    Sounds like a good way to launder money. How are they going to verify this money is legitimate?

  6. LF says:

    Well that would make it easy for a country sponsoring terrorist to get terrorist into this country legally.

  7. I live in Seattle and have noticed a huge growth in wealthy Chinese who want to buy homes here. There are even tour groups that come from mainland China and Hong Kong for the sole purpose of viewing and purchasing real estate.

    This could bring major investment to cities like NY, LA, SF and Seattle, but not much elsewhere. And I believe the rule is they would need to live in the residence for 6 months out of the year, which then means they would need to pay income tax on any foreign earnings.

    I kind of like it. We’ve got a huge supply of homes dragging the economy down and banks still won’t lend to most interested buyers. This would be one creative way to start eating away at that surplus. I’m eager to see where it goes too.

  8. freeby50 says:

    Important detail the article points out that :
    “Applicants can spend the entire amount on one house or spend as little as $250,000 on a residence and invest the rest in other residential real estate, which can be rented out.”

    So its not just limited to areas with $500k homes.

  9. Ben says:

    $500k in cash is no problem for the Mexican drug cartels. After all, ATF showed how you can use a straw buyer to move the process through.

  10. govenar says:

    I might want to buy a house, so I’d prefer that the prices go down in the near term rather than up.

  11. JJ says:

    I agree with this. If there’s anyone that doesn’t… consider the fact that we mostly let those that sneak in stay. Not supporting this bill would mean mostly letting those who sneak in stay while turning those willing to pay 500k away.

  12. bloodbath says:

    Our jobs went to them, now our homes as well?????? Pretty soon foreigners would deport Americans to the poorest countries and our politicians and businesses would approve it.

  13. echidnina says:

    While this may be a convenient solution to a problem, it makes me feel uneasy. As an immigrant myself (not to the US, but from the US), I don’t like the idea that the wealthy can just buy themselves legal residence in the country while everyone else has to go through longer, more difficult processes.

    • Bill says:

      This is actually pretty typical in many countries; buy some expensive property and/or invest a substantial sum in a business and many obstacles to becoming a resident will be removed. The general idea is the host country actually benefits from your presence, though jobs, taxes, etc.

  14. fabclimbers says:

    Just another step in the move to a new world order. Sell our real estate along with our sovereignty!

    • Bill says:

      Foreigners with cash have been buying prime US real estate for decades. Sometimes it has turned out well for them, and sometimes it hasn’t. It’s not as if all US purchasers are good and all foreign purchasers are evil; if anything, the rapacious short-sighted money-grubbing percentage in the US population is probably higher! And what do you think the sellers of those US real properties do with the cash they get? That’s right, they spend some of it buying and developing other US real property!

  15. Robert says:

    I need to call my rich uncle Omar and see if he will buy me my my million dollar crib.. He can come and stay anytime he likes.. Just keep sending the money..

  16. La says:

    I dont think that serious people will come and invest in proprety if they have no right to work !

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