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EB-5 Visa: The Basics
What is the EB-5?
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 (known as the “IMMACT 90”). The purpose of the EB-5 program is to allow employment-based immigration to the United States by granting lawful permanent residency (the green card) to foreign investors. Immigrants who are granted the EB-5 visa must invest, or plan to invest, at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise within the United States, while proving that they can create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for Americans. The EB-5 visa can also be granted to foreign investors who invest at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are two types of TEAs: 1) an area with a high rate of unemployment and 2) a rural area.*
*Please note: Current EB-5 visa regulations are set to expire on or about April 28, 2017. Continue to visit our website for updated regulations and news concerning the EB-5.
Why is the EB-5 important?
USCIS is responsible for administering the EB-5 Program for foreign investors. In addition to the businessmen and businesswomen who can invest in US enterprises and apply for a green card, their spouses and children under 21 are eligible for permanent residence as well. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by Congress in order to stimulate America’s economy by means of job creation and capital investment.
With the goal of fostering job creation, increasing regional productivity, and growing new businesses, the EB-5 program has become has grown into an appealing and rewarding opportunity for foreign investors from all over the world. Congress made the EB-5 program even more attractive to foreign investors by lowering the investment minimum from $1 million to $500,000 (as long as investment is for a business in a Targeted Employment Area), and allowing for the creation of both "direct" and "indirect" jobs. In order to ensure that domestic investment is directed to areas of facing economic downturn and high unemployment, investors can fund projects and businesses through more than 1,200 USCIS-approved "regional centers" across the country. A notable example of the success of EB-5 investment through a regional center is in Las Vegas, where EB-5 funding and investment revived the city's economy and allowed for various new resorts and hotels to be built on the Las Vegas strip.
how do foreign investors benefit with the eb-5?
Through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, foreign investors have the opportunity to invest in a commercial enterprise and help run a business in the US, while supporting job creation directly and indirectly. In turn, foreign investors and their immediately family members are offered the benefits of lawful permanent residency within the United States with the green card. The EB-5 program at its core allows employment-based immigration to the US for foreign investors, their spouses, and their children aged under 21.
EB-5 Application Process: how to apply
The application process for the EB-5 investor program has grown competitive due to the popularity of the program. Potential foreign investors must all apply through the Form I-526 (Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) administered by the USCIS. When filing the I-526, there are several requirements, each requiring evidence and supporting documentation for approval:
1) Intent (or Proof of Intent) to Invest in a New Commercial Enterprise
- Evidence that you have invested (or intend to invest) the required $1 million or $500,000 in a "for profit" new commercial enterprise.
2) Proof of Lawfully Sourced Capital
- Evidence demonstrating that the funds to be used for investment have been acquired lawfully.
3) Job Creation and Business Plan
- Evidence that your new commercial enterprise will result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs, for people whom are not related to you and whom are authorized to work in the United States.
4) Active Management of New Commercial Enterprise
- Evidence that you will take on a managerial or policy-making position at the new commercial enterprise.
After the Form I-526
If USCIS approves an applicant's Form I-526, there are 2 options for the applicant to choose from:
1) The applicant can file the Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with USCIS for an adjustment of status to a conditional permanent resident.
- The status of conditional permanent resident means that the resident has a green card that is active for 2 years. In order to become a permanent resident, a separate petition to remove conditions must be filed by the resident 90 days before the expiration of the green card.
2) The applicant can file the DS-230 or DS-260 (the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) with the Department of State to obtain the EB-5 Visa for admission into the United States.
- The DS-230 or DS-260 visa applications are required because they collect the needed information from people who are seeking an immigrant visa, in this case the EB-5 Visa.
- The DS-230 is a paper application submitted to USCIS by mail, and the DS-260 is the online version of the application submitted to USCIS via the Internet.
EB-5 Regional Centers
The Regional Center Program was created in order to encourage immigration to the United States by accepting and concentrating foreign investment in specific regions, often regions where there is economic hardship or high rates of unemployment. USCIS, under the direction of Congress, allotted 3,000 visas to be granted to people who choose to invest in a regional center. Today, there are more than 1,200 USCIS-approved regional centers to choose from, located all across the United States.
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