Senate Bill: Want a US Visa? Buy a Big House

Buy $500K worth of homes, and you can be a legal US resident
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2011 11:26 AM CDT
Sen. Charles Schumer gestures at a news conference on Capitol Hill in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – Are you a wealthy would-be immigrant with a penchant for real estate? Well, then have Chuck Schumer and Mike Lee got a deal for you. The Democrat and Republican senators have introduced a bipartisan bill that would grant a visa to foreigners who buy at least $500,000 worth of residential real estate, the Wall Street Journal reports. The investment could be broken up over multiple houses or condos, but each must cost at least $250,000.

The goal is to boost demand for a housing industry dying to clear out its bulging inventory. Foreign buyers snapped up $82 billion in US homes in the year ending in March, emerging as a significant force in hard-hit markets like South Florida, Southern California, and Arizona. “This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel,” Schumer said. The measure has some high-profile supporters, including Warren Buffett, who recently opined that the US could use some “rich immigrants.”

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