The EB-5 Investor Visa program presents outstanding opportunities for many overseas investors to become permanent residents of the United States. Choosing to invest in an EB-5 Visas program allows foreign investors, their spouse and children (under the age of 21) to obtain conditional green cards so that they can attend school, legally work in the United States if they so choose or simply enjoy retirement while living anywhere in the United States. All of this while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and improving productivity within the geographic region. Some of the benefits of investing into an approved Regional Center in a Targeted Employment Area (also known as a TEA).
In 1990, the United States Congress established the fifth employment-based (EB-5) preference category for immigrants seeking to enter the United States by enacting the Immigration and Nationality Act. The law is intended to benefit the U.S. economy by generating new economic activity and increasing employment in targeted areas. Section 203(b)(5) of the legislation makes foreign nationals eligible for permanent residency by engaging in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the American economy and directly create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and other immigrants lawfully authorized to be employed in the United States. The minimum qualifying investment amount is $500,000 for commercial enterprises located within a rural area (or a targeted employment area), and is otherwise $1,000,000.
In the simplest terms, this means that as a foreign investor you have the choice to invest either $500,000USD or $1,000,000USD into the development of a business or project here in the United States and that as a result of your investment this business will create at least 10 jobs in the local economy. You will also now become a “limited partner” in this new business and will share in the profits of this company based on an agreed upon percentage of ownership. These investment funds must be invested into the operations of the business and the funds must be “at risk” with no form of guarantee. While this not a passive investment (such as purchasing shares of stock), you are also not required to participate in the day-to-day operations of the business either.
Congress allocates 10,000 immigrant visas annually for this employment-based preference, the EB-5 category. At least 3,000 of these visas are set aside each year for those who utilize a designated Regional Center or TEA status. The EB-5 program does not discriminate against education, experience, and does not require a sponsor. There is no requirement to speak English and the EB-5 category also allows the family (including any children under 21 years old) to be part of the process. As an EB-5 Investor you are also free to reside anywhere in the United States that you choose.
The law requires that the foreign applicant to have invested in or be in the process of investing the necessary capital into an approved EB-5 project.
The basic EB-5 Visa investment amount is USD$1,000,000. However the required investment is USD$500,000 for an established business in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) which is defined as an area with an unemployment rate of or more above the U.S. national average or in a rural area (defined as being within the boundary of a city or town with a population of 20,000 or less).
Prospective investors are eligible to invest the required amount alone, create a qualifying business with other foreign investors and/or with a U.S. citizen or other people not seeking classification as a foreign investor. In these types of cases, all persons seeking classification as a foreign investor must have invested the required amount of USD$500,000, however each investor can use the same employees to reach the required 10 new positions
The USCIS requires validation that all capital investments are classified as “at risk” with no guarantees being made by the project to the investor. This is to confirm that the capital will actually be used for the purpose of creating jobs and profit-generating activity. Proof of actual business activity is also required and the use of capital investment for expenses or reserve accounts unrelated to job creation does not constitute “business activity”
Proof that the capital has been invested by the actual investor is required. The documentation should trace the capital from the investor directly to the investment. The USCIS also requires that the investor provide documentation that proves the source of their investment funds was obtained legally. Proof of documentation is provided through previous tax returns and financial statements.