The EB-5 visa program was established to stimulate economic development in high-unemployment and rural areas. It offers the opportunity for foreign nationals to obtain a permanent green card in exchange for investing a minimum of $1M or $500K into a qualifying project or business.
The EB-5 program can be structured as either a direct investment or through a regional center. Choosing the right option is essential.
What is EB-5?
The EB-5 program is designed to stimulate the economy and create new jobs through capital investment by foreign investors. It offers the opportunity for foreign nationals to obtain United States permanent resident status (a Green Card) by investing a minimum amount of capital and creating ten full-time jobs in the U.S.
EB-5 immigrant investors can invest in various enterprises and projects, from restaurants to retail and wholesale trade businesses. They can also purchase and expand an existing business or invest in troubled companies.
Every prerequisite for a regional center investment must be met by EB5 direct investment steps, including the need for the project to generate ten direct full-time jobs. The sole distinction is that direct EB-5 investments occur outside TEAs recognized by the USCIS.
An EB-5 investor must actively manage and direct their business to qualify for a visa. They can do this by becoming a shareholder, driving a subsidiary, or hiring employees to fill managerial and policy-forming positions.
Another essential requirement is that EB-5 investments remain invested and at risk throughout the two-year conditional residency period. It means that the EB-5 investor must be able to benefit from either gains or losses, depending on the performance of the business.
EB-5 investors should seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that their business meets all of the EB-5 requirements and that they can maintain active engagement in their company. They should also choose a business structure that will best protect their investments and provide the flexibility needed to grow their business.
How Does EB-5 Work?
The EB-5 program was developed in 1990 to promote economic growth and job creation by attracting foreign investment from investors who wanted to gain conditional permanent residency. Today, tens of billions of dollars in capital investment have been drawn to support American businesses and communities, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the United States.
USCIS administers the program and allows qualified immigrant investors to obtain green cards (permanent residency) in the United States through a qualifying, job-creating investment. There are two primary ways to invest: EB-5 direct investment and EB-5 regional center investment.
EB-5 direct investment requires the investment of at least $1,050,000, or $800,000 if the funds are invested in a Targeted Employment Area, to qualify for conditional permanent residency. In addition, the EB-5 investment must create at least ten jobs in the U.S.
This amount may be spread across multiple wholly-owned businesses. However, the company must be located within a targeted employment area or a geographic region with high unemployment rates in the U.S.
Most EB-5 investments are made through regional centers, which pool EB-5 funds with other immigrant investors to invest in a new commercial enterprise. The money is then managed by a fund manager, who assumes responsibility for investing in the business and creating the required full-time jobs.
How Does EB-5 Work for Investors?
The EB-5 direct investment program is the only visa program that allows foreign investors to gain permanent residency in the United States, also known as “Green Card” status. The EB-5 program was created in 1990 to stimulate the economy by attracting business investment and job creation from foreign countries.
The program has three primary requirements:
- A capital investment of $1 million, or $500,000, if the funds are invested in a rural or targeted high-unemployment area where unemployment is at least 150% of the national average.
- They are creating ten new full-time jobs (or one-tenth of that number if the business is a regional center).
- An employer-employee relationship with the investor’s chosen regional center.
If an EB-5 applicant does not satisfy all of the program’s requirements, they can still qualify for green card status if they show good faith compliance with the program’s stipulations.
Applicants can qualify for an EB-5 visa by investing directly in a business or through a regional center approved by USCIS to promote economic growth in designated areas. Most EB-5 investments are made through regional centers, which pool investor funds and strategically invest in major job-creating capital projects.
In addition, an investor can use a portion of their investment to fund two wholly-owned businesses, provided that the combined total creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for American workers. This strategy may be an excellent way to benefit most from their EB-5 investment, as it is often more cost-effective than directly investing in a single company.
What are the Benefits of EB-5?
The EB-5 program was introduced in 1990 and has helped thousands of foreign investors become lawful permanent residents of the United States by investing in a qualifying job-creating U.S. commercial enterprise. In return for a minimum $1M investment, EB-5 visa holders receive conditional green cards.
To qualify for a green card, EB-5 investors must invest in a new business that creates at least ten full-time jobs for American workers. It is known as the “job creation requirement.” In addition to investing in a new commercial enterprise, EB-5 investors must participate in managing the business or form policies that impact the business’s operations.
Depending on the investor’s preference, they can invest directly in a company and be a complete owner or partner in the business. It allows the investor to have significant control over the business and its operations and the potential for financial rewards.
Another advantage of direct investments is that they are generally easier to achieve. While it can take up to 7 months or more for regional center projects to kick off, direct investments allow an investor to start developing and seeking external funding for the business venture virtually immediately.
The EB-5 program also offers other benefits to investors and their families. EB-5 investors and their family members can live, work, retire, or attend school anywhere in the U.S., including in the state of their business. The EB-5 visa also gives children of investors access to top schools in the country.