Immigrating from another country to the United States isn't as easy as it used to be -- unless you have a million dollars.
More and more wealthy Chinese are emigrating to the Bay Area on EB-5 "investor visas," a program available to anyone willing to invest $1 million in a venture that can create permanent jobs after two years, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
China's experiencing an economic boom, but the country's moneyed elite prefer the Bay Area over their homeland because of better air, schools, food and democratic freedoms, according to the newspaper.
"The main reason is, they still worry about the future stability of China," said venture capitalist Ta-lin Hsu, in an interview with the newspaper. "The U.S. is a democracy, there is freedom and it's a safer place."
Participation in the EB-5 visa program has increased 700 percent since 1992, according to the newspaper. To qualify, an investor must sink $500,000 into projects in "economically struggling regions" or $1 million in other locations. If the investments succeed and create 10 jobs after two years, the investor, spouse, and children under 21 are granted permanent residency.
If the investment fails, however, the applicant is out the money and must return home as well.
A survey last year of Chinese millionaires revealed almost half were considering leaving the country with their wealth -- which is a dicey prospect, as Chinese law officially forbids citizens from leaving with more than $50,000 every year.