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Buying U.S. Green Card More Popular Than Ever: Chart of the Day

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The number of foreigners who have purchased green cards by investing in the U.S. has exploded in the last decade.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows approved applications for the EB-5 visa increased to 3,677 in 2012 from 69 in 2002, according to data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This visa gives foreigners permanent resident status if they show they’ll spur 10 jobs for every $500,000 spent in a rural or high-unemployment area and for every $1 million elsewhere. The total number of immigrant visas grew 24 percent to 482,300 from 389,157 during the same period.

“Taking a job from an American is not an issue here,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations specializing in visa and immigration policy. “If you look at investment in the U.S. economy over the past decade, it’s been fairly weak. Anything you can do to strengthen investment, even at the margins, is valuable.”

The EB-5 program has generated more than $6.8 billion in U.S. investment and created at least 49,300 jobs since it was established in 1990, according to the immigration agency.

The White House proposed that opportunities for the investor visas be expanded as part of a broad immigration program announced Jan. 29.

“The time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform,” President Barack Obama said the same day in a speech at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Raskin in New York at mraskin5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexandre Tanzi at atanzi@bloomberg.net

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