That's precisely what a bipartisan team of Senators, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are proposing. The last section of a their new immigration bill is titled, "Increasing Home Ownership by Priority Visitors." It would offer non-immigrant visas to foreigners who buy at least $500,000 worth of residential US real estate. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of caveats that will limit the scope of that potential buying population.
First and foremost, this is not a work visa, and the buyer has to live in the residence for at least six months (not necessarily consecutive) out of the year. That means said buyer would not be able to work in the US for half the year; translation, said buyer would have to be really rich. The buyer would of course have to go through the standard criminal background checks that any US residence visa requires, but they can bring the spouse and kids. The homeowner could not receive any US government benefits, and once they sell the house, they have to leave the country.
Good news, it doesn't cost the US anything.
Okay, so let's be realistic here. I like the idea of giving incentives to real estate investors, but I'd rather see those incentives go to U.S. citizens, like having Fannie and Freddie open the credit gates to them. That said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with spurring foreign investment in the US, but I'm wondering why this bill forces them to live here? We already have solid foreign investors helping to soak up some of our most distressed properties (thousands of Miami condos for sure), and most of these investors hire reputable US management companies to deal with upkeep and renting.
"We would prefer that people of means live here and buy our groceries, our gas and invest in local economies," says Lee's spokesman, Brian Phillips.