IIUSA has published a special report on Hong Kong. Despite only having a population of 7.5 million, it’s a top-10 EB-5 market, and has been growing since FY2013. For the last several years, Hong Kong has also had a higher-than-average I-526 approval rate. A thriving economy coupled with a desire by one in three Hong Kong residents to emigrate should make this region very attractive to EB-5 stakeholders.
Even though Hong Kong is a relatively small region compared to top EB-5 markets, it’s activity in the Green Card by investment program is robust and has been growing in recent years. This hasn’t always been the case. Though the region was one of the original major EB-5 markets, it’s involvement with the program waned in the early 2000’s before picking up again in the last eight years. Per capita, it represents a top market in I-526 filings.
Limited to data from only Q1 and Q3 for FY2019, IIUSA shows that the 31 I-526 filings during those quarters from Hong Kong show an increase of 41% from the same periods the year before.
The significant increase in Hong Kong I-526 filings corresponds with the overall increase in emigration from the region the past several years, due to political unrest, high real estate prices, and overpopulation.
Hong Kong I-526 filings
We can see the I-526 filing numbers making a big leap in FY2015 and sustaining that momentum since then.
Hong Kong I-526 approval rates
When it comes to I-526 filings, Hong Kong investors are doing something right — their approval rates have been consistently better than global averages, by a range of about 5% to almost 14%, since FY 2016. In fact, in FY 2018, Hong Kong every single one of their 48 I-526 filings was approved.
Hong Kong I-526 processing time
When IIUSA looked at one quarter of data per fiscal year the past three years, they determined that 75% of Hong Kong I-526 petitions were approved within 20 months. A quarter were approved within 13 months, and half of the filings were approved in 16.4 months. The fastest approval was a mere 1.8 months and the slowest was 27.1 months.
With USCIS greatly improved processing efficiency so far in FY2020, Hong Kong investors can feel confident that their I-526 approval shouldn’t take too long.
Standard investments vs. TEA investments
Between FY2000 and FY2008, far more Hong Kong EB-5 investments were made in non-TEA projects (at double the investment amount) compared with Targeted Employment Area (TEA) investments. This anomalous statistic suggests deeper pockets for some Hong Kong investors. However, since FY2010, the region has switched its preference to lower-cost TEA investments. In FY2019, 93% of Hong Kong investments were in TEA projects.
Hong Kong Green Cards
Almost 700 investors and family members from Hong Kong have been issued Green Cards since FY2000, with more than half of those numbers (367) coming in just FY2018 and FY2019 alone.
Hong Kong capital investment
The region has brought in at least $160 million of investment capital to the U.S since the start of the Regional Center Program in 1992. From FY2015 to FY2019, Hong Kong has contributed at least $21 million to the American economy.
Conclusion: money plus a desire to emigrate makes Hong Kong a strong EB-5 market
With a robust economy and many high-net-worth individuals, Hong Kong has the qualified investors the EB-5 program needs. And many of these people are not satisfied living in a densely crowed city, or dealing with the rising political tensions the region is experiencing with China.
Immigration, particularly to the U.S., is an attractive option for many Hong Kong residents — a recent survey shows one in three Hong Kong citizens interested in emigration. All of this seems to point to Hong Kong’s continued growth as a major market for EB-5.
See the IIUSA report “2019 EB-5 Immigrant Investor Trends in Hong Kong”