The below information is meant as a basic summary of the EB-5 program for developers and attorneys. For a more extensive accounting of the program please consult the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The Fifth Employment-Based Visa category, known commonly as EB-5, is a congressionally mandated program that seeks to capitalize on the interest of financially successful foreign citizens in becoming permanent residents of the United States. This program allows investors to enter here as conditional residents as soon as they make their investment, and to have their visa restrictions removed, to receive their Green Card, just 2½ years later.
The Green Card applies not only to the actual investor but to the investor’s spouse and all children under the age of 21. As a result, prospective investors may be looking to move to this country themselves, but they may just as likely merely be interested in their children moving here for school (where, as residents, their children will qualify for lower tuition rates) and in allowing their children to remain here after they would otherwise have to leave if they were only here on a student F-1 Visa.
The program asks 2 things of the investor:
- That s/he is able to prove that the source of their capital is from legal activities. This financial forensics is accomplished by a source-of-funds background check from a reputable firm within the investor’s home country.
- That the investment be a minimum of $500,000 in a business that, because of that investment, has created at least 10 full time US jobs.
A $500,000 investment is allowed if the business is located within what is called a Targeted Employment Area. The government’s definition of a TEA is an area with an unemployment rate in excess of 150% of the national unemployment number, as computed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this definition would appear on its face to be fairly obvious, in practice the determination of whether a project will qualify as within a TEA can be as much art as science. Each state has its own TEA-certifying body and uses its own metrics to determine unemployment on a census tract by census tract basis. Furthermore, each state has developed its own guidelines for defining what possible assemblage of census tracts constitutes an ‘area’.
If a project fails to qualify as within the bounds of a TEA then the program requires the investment be $1,000,000 to create the same 10 jobs and, in practice, such a project would be very difficult to finance through a Regional Center. Investors generally perceive EB-5 investments as quite risky (which they most often are, in one way or another) and see no reason to place $1,000,000 at risk when a different project will only require half that amount. It is possible that a large development will have such high brand recognition and other bona fides as to overcome that marketing hurdle, but it is unlikely.
Likewise, the definition of a full time job is also far less than obvious upon closer inspection. Investments may either be made directly into a business, without the help of a Regional Center, in which case that EB5-funded new commercial enterprise needs to prove that there are in fact 10 fully employed individuals per investor within that business. Or, EB-5 investors may pool their investments and funnel them through a Regional Center, such as LGRC, in which case they are given the latitude of counting not only direct employees but also indirect jobs that have been created as a result of increased economic activity resulting from that commercial enterprise. This indirect employment number can often be several times the number of direct employees for a business.
For more information please contact us. The EB-5 investor program is best tailored to individuals who seek quick approval of unrestricted US green cards, without needing to live or work in the United States.
One qualifed investment covers the individual investor, their spouse and all children under the age of 21 with conditional green cards, which are often processed within six months. Those restrictions can be removed just two years later, for full green card status for the entire family.
With a qualified investment through LGRC, investors are not responsible for day-to-day management of the business, and the job creation hurdle is lowered to include indirect jobs in addition to detect hires.
BACKGROUND & HISTORY
The EB-5 immigrant investment category was created by the US Congress in 1990 to encourage foreign investment that would stimulate the US economy. The number of EB-5 immigration visas is limited to 10,000 per year, with 7,000 allocated for individual entrepreneurs who invest a minimum of $1,000,000 and create 10 direct jobs. The remaining 3,000 visas are allocated for those who apply through a Regional Center under the EB-5 Pilot Program, generally with a $500,000 investment. Such investments also require the creation of 10 jobs per investor, but indirect as well as direct jobs are included in that tabulation.
- Conditional green card visas for the entire family are often processed within six months.
- One investment is valid for the investor, their spouse and all children under 21 years of age.
- This is an important advantage for families with children who are considering studying in the US. (In-state tuition can be $15,000 to $25,000 less per year when compared with tuition for foreign students.)
- As a permanent resident, the entire family is free to live and travel anywhere within the US.
- There are no language, skills, age or other requirements or restrictions.
- EB-5 Regional Center applicants do not need to be involved in the management of the business investment.
- Applicants receive interest on their investment, and after five years be able to get their investment back.
BASIC U.S. EB-5 IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
- The applicant must be at least 21 years of age.
- The applicant must invest $1 million in a business, or $500,000 when investing through a USCIS designated Regional Center, and must be able to prove the legitimacy of the sources of funds as well as significant individual net worth.
- The business must create full-time employment for at least 10 US workers.
APPLICATION PROCESS & TIMELINE
Once you decide to pursue the immigration opportunities presented through an EB-5 Visa, LGRC will work with you to manage and expedite every step of the process. Our senior immigration attorneys will ensure that all Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 1-526 requirements are met and your investment will be deposited into an escrow account where it will remain untouched until I-526 approval. If your application is denied for any reason, the entirety of your $500,000 will be returned to you.
Upon approval of the Petition, you will receive notifications from the National Visa Center to prepare documents for the Immigration Visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. The purpose of the Adjustment of Status or Immigrant Visa interview is to ensure you are not subject to grounds of exclusion; such grounds may include criminal history, disease or other issues. Conditional permanent resident status is often granted within six months of the beginning of the process.
Upon approval, your funds are released from escrow to the investment. After two years, LGRC will spearhead every aspect of your Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions I-829 application. Once conditional resident status is removed, a full Green Card is granted for indefinite permanent resident status and work permission in the United States. U.S. Citizenship is possible five years later, upon satisfaction of residence and other criteria.
For more information, contact us.