EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (Standard)
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by the US Government for the purpose of creating new jobs for U.S. workers by attracting investment of foreign capital into the U.S. economy. An individual who obtains an EB-5 visa receives conditional permanent resident status for a two-year period. After two years, if the conditions of the EB-5 program have been satisfied, the investor can apply to remove the conditions on the residency, thus becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
In order to qualify for an EB-5 immigrant visa, the applicant must invest capital in a job-creating business. The amount of capital that must be invested is $ 1,000,000, unless the investment is made in a “targeted employment area” (a high unemployment or a rural area). If this exception applies, a minimum investment of $500,000 is required. It is essential that the commercial enterprise creates at least 10 full-time jobs.
EB-5 Regional Center Program
Immigrant investors have the option to apply for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, a pilot program within the EB-5 program. Generally, the eligibility conditions are the same as for the standard EB-5 program, but the investment is made in a new commercial enterprise located within a “regional center” that has already been established by a third party.
A regional center is defined as an economic entity that is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including improved productivity, increased domestic capital investment, increased export sales and job creation. In order to receive the designation of “regional center”, the economic unit must be pre-approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By designating a “regional center”, the USCIS recognizes that the business plans are feasible and that jobs can be created directly or indirectly through the foreign investment.
By statute, these investor visas are limited annually to 7.1% of the worldwide level of employment-based immigration visas, with 3,000 set aside for targeted employment areas and another 3,000 for the regional center program. While the high investment amount and other requirements can put the visa out of reach for many, it remains a viable option for those seeking to enter the US with significant capital to invest.