H1-B visa holder warned against buying property in Florida, faces jail term - Hindustan Times
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H1-B visa holder warned against buying property in Florida, faces jail term

Jun 18, 2024 04:55 PM IST

Florida has enacted a law banning Chinese H-1B visa holders from owning a house in the state.

Jin Bian, a Chinese software engineer who has lived in the US for 12 years on an H-1B visa may face jail term for buying property in Florida.

Florida has enacted a law banning Chinese H-1B visa holders from owning a house in the state.(Unsplash)
Florida has enacted a law banning Chinese H-1B visa holders from owning a house in the state.(Unsplash)

Bian, 31, who wanted to cut his one-hour commute by purchasing a house near office in Tampa was in for a shock when he discovered that he can be jailed. His fault? He bought property ignoring his immigration status. Based on a law enacted nearly a year ago, Chinese citizens on H-1B visas, like him, are prohibited from buying property in Florida.

"I was really shocked. It's just purchasing property. Once I learned that, I didn’t even bother to look anymore," Bian, originally from Nanjing, China, told CNN.

Chinese citizens without green cards face a felony charge and possible prison time if they purchase property in the state. Sellers and real estate agents can also be found liable under the law.

Susan Li, who holds a green card, said she “really felt the discrimination” when she learned about the bill.

What is the Florida Law on property purchase for H-1B holders?

A year back in July, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed this law, which restricts Chinese nationals without US green cards from purchasing real estate in the state. Florida Senate Bill 264 also imposes restrictions on citizens from Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria. It prevents them from buying property within 10 miles of military installations or critical infrastructure. However, Indians are not listed in the law.

The law reflects Florida’s stance against what DeSantis describes as "the United States' greatest geopolitical threat — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."

Bian is now reconsidering his future in Florida. "We’re ordinary people. We don’t talk about these political things. I think 99.99% of people here just want to have a good life… I don’t think California will ever have this kind of law," he told CNN. He remains hopeful the law might be reversed but plans to move back to California if there are no changes in the next year or two.

The legislation is currently facing legal challenges in court, and other states are also considering similar measures.

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