EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa
A visa preference category under the Employment-based Visas is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa category. This visa is available to people who want to immigrate to the United States (U.S.) in order to invest in a commercial enterprise beneficial to the economy of the U.S. and which will create at least 10 full-time jobs for the American workforce. There are 10,000 EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visas allocated each year.
Requirements for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa
There are two types of commercial enterprises that an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa applicant can invest in:
New Business Enterprise - Requirements
1. Investment by an EB-5 immigrant must benefit the economy of the U.S. through the provision of goods or services to the U.S. markets.
2. An EB-5 immigrant must invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000.00 (One Million Dollars). However, if the EB-5 immigrant invests in a "designated targeted employment area," the required minimum amount for investment is $500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars).Section 203(b)(5)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defines "targeted employment area" as "a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average."
3. When an EB-5 immigrant invests in a new business enterprise, the new business must create full-time employment for at least 10 full-time jobs for the American workforce. The American workforce can consists of U. S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and other workers who have lawful authorization to work in the United States. However, the EB-5 immigrant, his spouse, and children cannot be included among the new 10 full-time employees the new business enterprise will hire.
4. The EB-5 immigrant must have a day-to-day role in the management of the company or through directly developing the policies of the company. The main criteria is that the EB-5 Visa immigrant cannot be a passive investor to qualify for the visa.
Troubled Business Enterprises - Requirements
1. The EB-5 immigrant must invest in a business that has existed for at least two years and has incurred a net loss for the past 12 to 24 months immediately before filing the immigration forms for the EB-5 Visa. The net loss must be at least equal to 20 percent of the business's net worth before the loss.
2. When the EB-5 immigrant invests in a troubled business enterprise, the EB-5 immigrant must keep the number of jobs that the company originally had before the investment for at least two years.
3. The financial investment required is the same as what is required for the EB-5 immigrant investing in a new business enterprise. See Subsection 2 above under "New Business Enterprise."
Regional Center Pilot Program
The Regional Center Pilot Program is an EB-5 pilot program that the United States Congress created in order to encourage foreign investment in the country. This pilot program is overseen by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the agency that designates qualified applicants as Regional Centers. A Regional Center can be a private enterprise, corporation, or a regional governmental agency that has a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region.
The financial investment for Regional Centers is the same as investment in New Business or Troubled Business Enterprises stated above. The one difference with Regional Centers is in regards to the number of jobs that an investor needs to create as a result of their financial investment. In Regional Centers, the required 10 full-time jobs created can be either direct or indirect as a result of the investment. The Regional Center Pilot Program allocates 3,000 lawful permanent resident cards out of the 10,000 EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visas allocated a year. Although still a pilot program, it has currently been renewed and is currently due to expire on September 30, 2012.
Immediate Family Members of EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visas
Spouses and unmarried children (20 years and below) are eligible to immigrate with EB-5 Immigrant Investors. Please note that if the EB-5 application is filed with USCIS before the child turns 21 years old, and if the child is unmarried, the child of the EB-5 immigrant is still eligible as a dependent of the EB-5 immigrant.
Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident Cards
When an investor gets approved for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa, they and their dependents will receive a "conditional" lawful permanent resident card (also known as the "green card") that is valid for two years. Prior to the expiration of the "green card" the EB-5 immigrant and their dependents may file for a "permanent" lawful permanent residency status. In order to do this, the EB-5 immigrant and their dependents will have to provide evidence that s/he has maintained her/his investment and have created or saved at least the required 10 full-time jobs.
The permanent "green card" is valid for ten years and is treated like any other category of "green card" residents. After having the permanent "green card" continuously for five years, the EB-5 Investor immigrant and his dependents can apply for United States citizenship.
Note: Applying for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa is a complicated process. Thus, it is advisable to contact an Immigration Attorney who can explain in more detail the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa process.