A Boost for housing by modifying Visas?

House construction NC washingtonpost and bloombergWashingtonPost reports that despite near record low interest rates, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is pessimistic about a housing market recovery. A Catch-22 exists. We need more spending, yet existing home owners watching their current values slump keep many in that large group from doing more spending. Against that backdrop, academic, researcher, and writer Vivek Wadhwa suggests the following as a solution to boost housing. “There may be a very simple way out of this predicament at no cost to taxpayers: Provide immediate permanent-resident visas to the hundreds of thousands of doctors, scientists, and engineers who are already in the United States legally and stuck in immigration limbo…But make their expedited permanent residency contingent on their purchase of a house for, say, more than $250,000…They are already working in the U.S. They didn’t break any laws…And they won’t be a burden to society, since these workers often earn six-figure salaries and pay high taxes. So this should be a no-brainer…Our country needs to expand the numbers of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visas available, remove the per-country limits, and tie the immediate issuance of these visas to the purchase of a home. I estimate that at the least 20% of qualified immigrants will take the government up on this offer. That amounts to more than 100,000 houses being sold within a short period of time—a roughly $25 billion potential boost to the anemic housing market.”  This is also a creative tool, Wadhwa says, to get and keep the brightest and best coming to and staying legally in America.

Editor’s Note: This is a creative initiative indeed. Factory builders could support such a move, while advocating that any new home construction would qualify for the proposed program, thus allowing manufactured, modular or other forms of factory building to benefit.  This concept avoids the contentious parts of the illegal immigration debate, since it is all about those legally in the U.S. already.

(Photo Credit: Washington Post/Bloomberg)

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