Comment: Trees, Forests and Soil of Immigration

We commend Suzanne Lazicki of Lucid Professional Writing on the blog post--especially the following methodological point:

"In the past I’ve delved into the detail and complications behind EB-5 visa availability, with my 10-tab spreadsheet of data, log of visa allocation statutes, and scenario analysis. But examining the trees can mean losing sight of the forest. So for this post, I want to focus on the solid big picture behind all our varied and flawed attempts to quantify EB-5 wait times in detail."

This is an excellent observation. To understand visa retrogression enough to make long term projections, one must understand the forest before understanding the trees. Focusing on the trees alone in this context will lead to one missing the entire forest. It is important to see immigration using EB-5 as just a thicket of trees in the forest of immigration to the USA. Understanding the motivations of immigrants, their reasons for uprooting their families in their home countries, and moving to the USA, are the soil on which the forest of large patterns of immigration rest.

When you look at the pattern of immigration over the past decades--across countries and kinds of immigration--you can see that in practice, immigrants applying for immigration largely ignore wait times, and rather focus on the critical decision of whether or not to uproot their family to move to the US. This is simply applying the lessons form immigration history across countries, across types of immigration and across decades. You can see it clearly in the categories such as FB-4 for Philippines and EB-2 for India with decades long waiting times. Continued immigration numbers in face of massive wait times in these categories suggests the relative inflexibility of demand for green cards in spite of extremely long waiting times. EB-5 is not independent of this long standing pattern of immigration.

Immigrants are much smarter about pursuing their interests than most analysis of waiting times gives them credit for. Immigrants are making a decision about their lives--whether they want to settle in US or not. Having made that fundamental decision, patterns of immigration in different types of immigration demonstrate that immigrants do not nickle and dime about relatively small variations in waiting times. Some analyses would lead one to believe that no immigrants would be willing to stand in the EB-2 line for India or FB-4 line for Philippines, but that is demonstrably untrue--immigrants have been voting with their feet and standing in these long lines.Immigrants make their choices based on their own life goals and available alternatives, and not as a stimulus-response to projected wait times.

Further, the contexts of a particular set of immigrants vary greatly and shape their choices. For example, approximately half of the Indian EB-5 market--those Indians who are already in the US are already enjoying all the benefits of being in the US. They are getting EB-5 to simply secure what they already have, and therefore the waiting times do not matter materially as compared to those outside the USA--especially because their alternatives of getting Green Cards through EB-2 or EB-3 can take more than a lifetime--which is no alternative at all.

We welcome the broadening of the discussion to include the forest.

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