In 1990, Congress established the EB-5 program to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The program allows foreign investors to obtain conditional permanent residence (Green Card) for two-year period by investing at least half a million to a million dollars in the U.S., in economically disadvantaged areas. After two years, if the foreign investor has satisfied the conditions of the EB-5 Program, the conditions are removed and the investor and his or her family (spouse and children under 21) become lawful permanent residents of U.S.
Congress created the two-year conditional status period to help ensure compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements, and to ensure that the capital was fully invested and 10 full-time U.S. jobs were in-fact created, in those two-years.
To qualify for EB-5:
- Invest or be in process of investing $1 million dollars, or $500,000 dollars in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is a rural area or area of high unemployment designated by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services;
Note: Over 95% of EB-5 investments are in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA).
- Have obtained the capital invested through lawful means, not from criminal or illegal activity;
- Invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is any business formed after November 29, 1999 or in a troubled business; and
- Create 10 full-time (35 hours a week) employment for U.S. worker. Note: it can be anyone authorized to work in U.S., not required to be citizen or green card holder, but investor and his or her family may not be one of the 10 employees.
Benefits of EB-5
The EB-5 prgoram gives the investor a Green Card. It has no requirements regarding age, business training, management skills, experience, or language skills. Whereas, other visas like L1 visa is only valid for 7 years and has numerous requirements. EB-5 visa gives Green Card, which gives benefits of:
- Green card to spouse and unmarried children under 21;
- Qualifying for “in state” tuition, rather then paying tuition as an international student, which can save thousands of dollars on education;
- S. health programs (e.g. Obama Care)
- Social security;
- S. citizenship after 5 years of residence in United States;
- And many more benefits.
Regional Center Program
In 1992, Congress created an additional component of the standard EB-5 program, the Regional Center Pilot Program. A Regional Center is a public or private entity designated by USCIS, that is authorized to coordinate with multiple immigrant investors and to pool their investments for greater economic impact. Regional Centers are authorized to operate within defined geographic regions and within specific industry sectors.
Investing through a Federally-designated Regional Center (e.g. apartments for low income citizens) offers the immigrant investor the most expeditious means for obtaining a permanent resident visa (Green Card).
Regional centers are multiplying and have become the predominant vehicle for EB-5 investment. As of November 1, 2013, USCIS has approved approximately 400 regional centers. The Regional Center Program benefits foreign investors by directing and professionally managing their investment in the designated business and geographic focus of the regional center. An example of a regional center is a Marriott hotel, which was built with hundreds of EB-5 investors, and created over 1,000 U.S. jobs and had a 100% approval rate on investor’s EB-5 petitions.
How does EB-5 differ from L-1 visa (manager transfer)?
In EB-5, investor enters U.S. with a green card and may obtain U.S. citizenship for investor and his or her family after five years. Other visas, such as the L-1, may never result in permanent residence, and has time limits, has to be renewed, and requires additional fillings with USCIS.
What if I apply for I-526 Petition and wire $500,000 to the commercial enterprise, but the I-526 Petition is denied?
If denied and escrow agreement allows, then the $500,000 will be returned to investor.
Are the funds used to invest required to be “white” (with lawful paper transaction) or can they be “black” (cash without paper documentation)?
The source of funds must be lawfully earned and properly documented, so must the funds must be “white.”
Do I need to have earned the money for the investment myself?
For example, the money can be a gift. The only requirement would be to show that the gifted money was legally earned, and that taxes (if applicable) were paid on the gift. Another example would be using the proceeds of the sale of real estate or a prior investment to fund the investment.
Are there any restrictions on types of businesses in which investment must be made?
The investment must be in a “new commercial enterprise” in the United States. “New” means that the investment must have been made after November 29, 1990. “Commercial Enterprise” is a for-profit entity. Therefore, the U.S. investment can be in any one of four forms: (1) the creation of a new business; (2) the purchase of an existing business, which is reorganized to form a new enterprise; (3) the expansion of an existing business; or (4) the saving of a failing and troubled business.
Can I invest in two or three different business, rather than investing in one business?
Yes, an investor may diversify his or her total EB-5 investment across a portfolio of businesses or projects, so long as minimum investment is placed in a single commercial enterprise. For example, a direct investor may have one holding company, like a corporation, that invests in two commercial enterprises, one for $300,000 and another for $200,000, which the holding company wholly owns.
What is the age requirement for children?
The investor’s spouse and any minor children, under 21 and unmarried, also qualify for green card. The minor children’s age is “frozen” at the time of the I-526. Thus, a 20-year old dependent is not in danger of “aging out” during the application process.
If a member of my family or I are already in the U.S. on another visa, is it necessary to return to my home country in order to obtain an EB-5 visa or permanent residence?
Probably not. In order to obtain permanent residence in the U.S. under the EB-5 program, it may not be necessary to return to home country. If the Investor and his or her family are currently in a valid, non-immigrant status, they may adjust their status to EB-5, while in the U.S.
Can I freely travel after obtaining my conditional permanent resident status
The investor is free to travel in and out of U.S., subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent residents. However, investor must have their residence in U.S. and cannot be outside of U.S. for a continuous period of one year or more.
How do I start the process?
Contact Rijal Law Firm by calling or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.