EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
The fifth employment-based (EB-5) immigrant visa category, commonly called the “investor visa,” allows foreign investors to immigrate to the United States through investment in a commercial enterprise. This immigrant category was created by Congress in 1990 for the purpose of supporting ventures that would benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs.
The minimum required amount to invest is $1 Million, or $500,000 for a project in a “Targeted Employment Area.” A Targeted Employment Area is a rural area or one with high unemployment, which the government has designated as being in particular need of economic development. The investor must prove that he or she is “actively investing,” which means that he or she must, at a minimum, have a policy-making role in the project. He or she must also prove that the money invested is truly “at risk,” and that all of the funds invested were obtained legally. After two years, an EB-5 project must show that it has created at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers in order for the investor to become a Lawful Permanent Resident.
The first step in the process is for the investor to decide on a project. Through the EB-5 Alien Entrepreneur program, the investor invests in and actively manages his or her own business, provided he or she can prove it meets EB-5 requirements. Through the EB-5 Regional Center program, the foreign national can invest in a designated Regional Center, which has already been approved by the government for purposes of the EB-5 program. There are many Regional Center programs set up throughout the country from which to choose. In a Regional Center project, the investor does not need to take an active role in the project. Please see USCIS’s website for a complete list of approved Regional Centers.
It is very important that the investor have a thorough understanding of the legitimacy and viability of the project he or she decides to invest in, so it is helpful to work with a qualified business analyst. A detailed application must then be submitted to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, outlining the project’s business plans and eligibility under the EB-5 program.
When the investor and his or her dependents move to the United States, they file for conditional residence for two years. After the two years are up, they must file another petition to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status (their “green cards”). This petition must include evidence that the investor has complied with the rules of the EB-5 program for his or her two years of conditional residency, including evidence that he or she has continually maintained the investment, and that the investment has created at least 10 U.S. jobs. When the conditions are removed, the investor and his or her dependents become Lawful Permanent Residents, and will eventually be able to apply for citizenship, if desired.
The requirements for a successful EB-5 investment are stringent and complex, making getting an EB-5 visa a complicated task. Proper legal representation is essential in navigating the intricacies of U.S. financial and immigration law. Watson Law Offices is proud to offer top-quality professional services in understanding and complying with the EB-5 investor program, including satisfying the requirements of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and the U.S. State Department, referring quality professionals in tax law and business analysis, and keeping the investor informed of what to expect at all stages of the process.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation with our attorney, please contact our Bedford office.