The EB-5 visa provides a direct path to permanent residence in the United States for foreign investors and their families. To qualify for the visa, an investor must invest at least $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise and create 10 jobs. If the commercial enterprise is located outside of a targeted employment area (TEA), the minimum investment amount is $1,000,000.
Regional Centers: Some investors prefer to start their own business, while others would rather invest in an existing entity such as a Regional Center. Regional Centers are any economic entity, public or private, that are involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment. The Regional Center takes care of the everyday aspects of running the business and ensuring that the requisite number of jobs are created which allows the foreign national investor to take a more passive role. Most Regional Centers are located in Target Employment Area (TEA) areas that only require a $500,000 investment.
Casseus Law can provide you with a list of approved Regional Centers and can also assist you with questions you may have about the EB-5 program. You may contact Casseus Law at email@example.com or by calling (339) 222-3434.
An EB-5 investor Green Card allows a foreign national to obtain permanent residence by investing in a commercial enterprise. The investor may start his or her own company, invest in an existing company or invest in a Regional Center. The spouse and unmarried children of the investor foreign national may simultaneously apply for their own green cards as derivatives of the EB-5 investor.
Investor requirements to obtain a green card:
1. Create a new commercial enterprise, which can be accomplished by:
- Starting a new business,
- Restructuring and reorganizing an existing business so that a new commercial organization results, or
- Expanding an existing business
2. The immigrant investor must create 10 new jobs for U.S. Citizens or lawful residents eligible for employment in the U.S.
3. Invest at least $1,000,000 unless the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) in which case the minimum investment is only $500,000. [A TEA is defined as a rural area (any metropolitan statistical area with a population of less than 20,000) or an area with an unemployment of at least 150% of the average.]
- The capital must be invested and at risk.
- The investment must benefit the U.S. economy
The investment can occur directly in an enterprise created by the foreign national or through a designated “Regional Center”. An investment in a Regional Center is a passive investment where the Regional Center manages the day-to-day operations of the business and ensures the project fulfills the EB-5 program’s statutory requirements. This approach is attractive to many foreign nationals. Many individuals do not want to deal with starting a business while worrying about complying with the job creation requirements, others may want to focus on their existing jobs, and many simply don’t have the time or desire to develop and direct a U.S. enterprise.
Investing in an approved Regional Center does not automatically reduce the required investment from $1,000,000 to $500,000, but the vast majority of Regional Centers are set up within a TEA. Approval as a Regional Center also provides an alternate method of satisfying the job creation requirement. An investment in a Regional Center project in a TEA permits an EB-5 applicant to qualify based on an investment of $500,000.00 without having to directly employ any U.S. workers as long as indirect jobs are created. The Regional Center must apply for this designation directly from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Regional Centers were created to maximize the chance that an EB-5 Green Card will be approved. There is no guarantee that a foreign national who invests in a regional center will be granted a green card.
Regional Center projects are diverse. Some regional centers invest in technology, real estate, ski resorts, farms, wineries, and manufacturing. It is important for a foreign national looking to create or invest in a regional to speak with a qualified investment adviser and tax professional before making such an investment to determine whether Regional Center creation or investment is appropriate.
Whether the investor chooses to create his or her own new commercial enterprise or invest through a Regional Center the process is similar.
Overview of the Regional Center Process:
- Consult with an Attorney and a Financial and/or tax Adviser to determine the right investment and any tax implications.
- Sign the appropriate contracts and place the investment funds in an interest bearing escrow account.
- The investor’s immigration attorney files the I-526 and necessary supporting documentation.
- After 3-4 months the I-526 should be approved (processing times may vary).
- The petition is transferred to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire
- Fees and Forms will be collected by the National Visa Center for the foreign national and each accompanying family member and the case is transferred overseas for an interview.
- Conditional Green Card is then sent to the investor and his or her family. After immigrant visa approval each immigrant must enter the U.S. within 6 months.
- If investing in a Regional Center, membership certificates will be issued along with quarterly statements for the investor. Day-to-day aspects of the company are controlled by the Regional Center.
- 1 year and 9 months after the I-526 is approved the investor must Petition to USCIS to remove conditions on the permanent residency. The investor and his or her immigration attorney will demonstrate that the $500,000 is invested and that 10 jobs have been created. Regional Centers have been pre-approved to do this and should satisfy this requirement.
- A 10 year Permanent Resident card is issued once the conditions have been removed.
- 5 years after Permanent Residency is obtained a foreign national may choose to become a United States Citizen.