In the last of our three-part series about East Asia, immigration lawyer David Enterline shares his insights about the Taiwanese market: how it is similar and different from other East Asian markets, and the impact of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA).
Taiwanese petitioners are more experienced but still trust agents
According to Enterline, the Taiwanese approach to investing is somewhere between the Chinese, who often implicitly trust agents, and the Vietnamese, who are very independent and ask a lot of questions.
“The Taiwanese have a bit more international experience and business sophistication and more of them speak English, with some having studied in the U.S. and around the globe.”
But at the same time, he has observed that Taiwanese are also willing to simply find an agent that they trust and go with the project that the agent is promoting. “They won’t really be investigating the details of the offer,” he says.
In terms of attraction to big-city projects, this has been a factor guiding investment decisions for Taiwanese investors, but not to the same degree as the Chinese. “The Taiwanese are a little more international and certainly a little more Americanized, so they’re much more familiar with the flyover states.”
No remittance issues
Remitting funds to the U.S. can be a serious challenge for other East Asian countries. China has a $50,000 annual remittance limit, and Vietnam allows just about $7,000 per year.
However, Taiwan does not have any remittance issues.
Taiwan’s future with China
The political instability of certain countries can motivate nationals to pursue U.S. residency through EB-5. Is Taiwan included in that group of countries, due to the political uncertainty it faces, particularly as Mainland China maintains that it shall one day reunite with Taiwan?
Enterline, being a part of a law office in Taiwan, is very aware of recent Chinese saber-rattling. “Under Xi Jinping, he's escalated that and has vowed reunification is going to happen sooner or later. There’s been increased pressure in the last couple of years through military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and the median line of the Taiwan Strait.” As such, Enterline recognizes the potential for conflict in the not too distant future.
While Taiwanese nationals have for 50 years lived under the notion of one day reunifying with China, Enterline has recently seen some more urgent interest in acquiring Green Cards. Enterline won’t call the increased Taiwanese EB-5 interest substantial, but acknowledges that the political climate has led to an uptick in Taiwanese pursuing residency in America and other countries.
Impact of the Reform and Integrity Act for Taiwan
The new regulations provide all investors certain protections and more transparency from regional centers. Of course, these apply to Taiwanese investors as well. Moreover, Taiwan is not backlogged with its per-country cap visa quota, and approved petitioners can have access to immediately available visas. Still, the apparent benefit of priority processing of I-526E petitions in rural areas will be of interest to Taiwanese investors to try to avoid long delays in petition processing.
Taiwan’s Future with EB-5
As political tensions with China simmer and the threat of a return to communism looms, what does the future look like for Taiwan and EB-5?
Enterline has some cautious optimism for this smaller East Asian market. “The Taiwanese EB-5 market is slowly coming back. There will be people here choosing EB-5 even though the amount has increased substantially. However, $800,000 is potentially beyond the upper-middle class in terms of disposable wealth and the ease of liquidating the investment, usually from a property.”
Despite the higher price point limiting the Taiwanese market, he knows there are those who can still afford it and who perceive the U.S. as a relatively safe solution.
Enterline’s final words on Taiwan are careful and steady, in keeping with his prediction of how the country’s investors are likely to act: “The EB-5 market here may slowly come back.”