The EB-5 Visa offers an excellent opportunity for foreign investors to secure permanent residency (a green card) in the United States by investing substantial capital into new commercial enterprises. The program also requires that the investment create at least ten jobs for American workers. It’s important to understand all of the complexities that come with these types of investment opportunities. Choosing the right project can mean the difference between receiving your original investment back or not.
EB-5 Visa Requirements
The purpose of the EB-5 visa is to encourage foreign investors to contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. Foreign nationals can obtain a conditional green card by investing in a new commercial enterprise and creating a minimum of ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Companies such as EB5 Capital provide annual quotas and set aside specific slots for investments in targeted employment areas.
To qualify for the EB-5 visa, you must invest in a new business and actively engage in its management by forming policies or handling day-to-day operations. Passive investments such as land speculation do not ordinarily qualify. However, invest in a regional center set up as a limited partnership. In that case, USCIS will consider you sufficiently engaged in management because you own a part of the company with the rights normally granted to limited partners.
Another requirement is that your investment must create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This is typically a large hurdle for direct EB-5 investments, so most immigrant investors use their funds to invest in a larger NCE through an approved regional center.
Investors must also demonstrate that their investment is “at risk.” The term at-risk means that your money can go up or down in value and is not guaranteed a profit.
Investing in a U.S. Business
The U.S. investor visa program reserves 10,000 EB-5 immigrant investor visas yearly for foreign investors who invest in new commercial enterprises. To be eligible, the investment must be made in a project that generates a minimum of ten full-time jobs and meets the minimum capital investment requirement.
EB-5 immigration law defines “new” and “commercial enterprise.” While it’s possible to profit from your EB-5 investment, this income is not considered part of the required capital contribution because it is not a direct investment.
When choosing an EB-5 project, many immigrants focus on investments within designated TEAs. These regions are defined by groupings of contiguous census tracts with unemployment rates exceeding 150% of the national average. However, many non-TEA EB-5 projects offer different investment opportunities and project types, catering to investors’ diverse preferences and goals.
Investors can make a debt or equity investment in the Job Creating Enterprise (JCE). An EB-5 participant needs to understand that their money must be at risk. If a loan is guaranteed, that portion of the investment is not considered at risk and will not count toward their capital contribution.
Obtaining a Green Card
The immigrant investor and their family members will receive lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card) if successful. This card allows the individual to live and work in the United States. It can also help them obtain U.S. citizenship.
There are different methods for individuals to obtain Green Cards, such as securing residency sponsorship from their employer, possessing specialized skills, or participating in the Diversity Visa Lottery. In most cases, the employer must initiate the process by submitting a labor certification application to the Department of Labor. This entails demonstrating that no eligible American workers are available for sponsored positions.
If you are from Canada, you can invest money in a new business and submit a Form I-526 request to USCIS. This request should provide proof of your investment and show that it will lead to job creation for people in the United States. USCIS will assess the request and decide whether to approve it or not.
If the EB-5 Visa program is approved, the foreign national will receive a conditional Green Card valid for two years. After this period has elapsed, they can apply to have the conditions removed from their green card by filing Form I-829. This petition must include evidence that the capital investment has been made and has created or maintained at least ten jobs for U.S. workers.
Before starting an investment, knowing your options and considering the best route to permanent residency is important. Some investors may start by investing in an E-2 visa, allowing them to establish and operate their business in the United States. However, once they have proven their success, they can consider pursuing the EB-5 visa, which can provide them with permanent residency in return for an investment of $800,000 (in high-unemployment areas) or $1,050,000 elsewhere, and creating 10 jobs. This provides some benefits, including reduced tuition rates for children at U.S. colleges and universities.