Buy a House, Get a Visitor Visa?

I have been promoting a “buy a house, get a visa” program for several years, so I was initially pleased to see a new bill on this theme from Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah).

…the proposed measure would offer visas to any foreigner making a cash investment of at least $500,000 on residential real-estate—a single-family house, condo or townhouse. Applicants can spend the entire amount on one house or spend as little as $250,000 on a residence and invest the rest in other residential real estate, which can be rented out.

On closer inspection, however, the bill is very weak. Most importantly, the visa would simply allow the buyer to live in his or her house but would not allow them to work in the United States. Pathetic.

I also liked Matt Yglesias‘s spin on this:

The larger issue, however, is that the Schumer/Lee proposal would deny the new immigrants the right to work in the United States. As with other restrictions on high-skill immigration, this is essentially a form of class warfare against less educated Americans. We should be clamoring to increase the supply of foreign-born doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other highly educated occupations as a way of increasing the real wages of America’s factory workers, janitors, waitresses, carpenters, and retail clerks.

Addendum: Canadians are not impressed with the offer.


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