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The EB-5 Investor Visa
In 1990, Congress created the EB-5 program to benefit the U.S. economy by attracting investments from qualified foreign investors. Under this program, each investor is required to demonstrate that at least 10 new jobs were created or saved as a result of the EB-5 investment, which have a requirement of a minimum $1 million, or $500,000 if the funds are invested in certain high-unemployment or rural areas.
In 1992, Congress increased the economy impact of the EB-5 program by permitting the designation of Regional Centers to pool EB-5 Capital from multiple foreign investors for investment in USCIS approved economic development projects within a delimited geographic region.
More than 25 countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, use similar programs to attract foreign investments. The U.S. program is more demanding than many others, requiring substantial risk for investors in terms of both their financial investment and immigration status.
The EB-5 immigrant visa is an investment-based opportunity for a green card.
As a general rule, you may obtain a permanent resident status (also known as green card) through the EB-5 visa if you fulfill two major requirements:
– an investment of $1 million of legally obtained capital in a commercial enterprise in the U.S., and
– create 10 jobs for U.S. workers.
As mentioned before, the “investment” requirement can sometimes be lower. For instance, if you invest through a “Regional Center” or within a “Targeted Employment Area,” then the investment requirement is only $500,000. (“Targeted Employment Areas” include “rural areas” or “high unemployment area”).
In general, the EB-5 visa has the following advantages over employment-based green card options and achievement-based green card options:
– Does not require a PERM labor certification. That is, there is no need to show there is a shortage of U.S. workers to perform your job.
– Does not require a permanent job offer in the United States. In comparison, if you instead use the more common business-related green card category, EB-1C Multinational Executives or Managers (which is the “permanent” version of the L-1A Multinational Executives or Managers nonimmigrant visa), you have to prove that you have a permanent job offer.
– Does not require you to maintain your existing home-country business. If you want to abandon your business operations outside the United States, you can shut down those operations and still obtain your green card in the United States. (You should always check with your immigration lawyer before shutting down your overseas business, though.) In comparison, under the EB-1C Multinational Executives or Managers green card option, you must maintain your business operations in your home country throughout the green card application process.
– Does not require Extraordinary Ability (or “national interest” level achievements) in business. You need to demonstrate to have $1 million in legitimately obtained money to invest in the United States.
– Does not require you to be a citizen of a Treaty Country, line the E-2 Visa or the E-1 Visa.