06/11/2012 04:05 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2012

Record Number Of Immigrants Expected To Receive EB-5 Investor Visas This Year

If you want to become a U.S. citizen, making a lot of money isn't a bad way to start.

The U.S. government is expected to issue a record 6,000-plus EB-5 immigrant investor visas to foreigners this year, CNNMoney reports. If the projection holds true, the government will issue nearly double the number of immigrant investor visas that they handed out last year.

The immigrant investor program was created in 1990 to boost the economy through investment and job creation, and China's wealthy are largely driving the surge in immigrant investor visa applications, according to CNNMoney. There is a quota of 10,000 immigrant investor visas that can be issued every year.

To qualify, applicants must invest at least $1 million in a new or recent business or $500,000 in a high-unemployment or rural area, and demonstrably create or preserve at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs, according to the government.

"Considering everything we've been through, this was easy," said David Joyce, a British citizen that recently acquired green cards for his family by investing $500,000 in a Vermont ski resort, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to creating jobs, foreigners with money are also helping to prop up the U.S. housing market. With homes in many American cities at bargain basement prices, foreigners are scooping them up, the Wall Street Journal reports. Nearly 9 percent of all U.S. home purchases over the past year were by foreigners, and foreign purchases of U.S. homes have increased 24 percent over the past year, according to National Association of Realtors data cited by the WSJ.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have proposed giving visas to foreigners that buy at least $500,000 in U.S. residential real estate, according to a separate WSJ report.