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EB-5 Visa Program Overview

EB-5 Visa Program Basics

The United States Immigrant Investor Program—also known as the employment-based fifth-preference visa program, or just the EB-5 program—was created by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990 and codified in Title 8 of the U.S. Code, § 1153(b)(5). The program is administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Foreign investors who satisfy the requirements under the EB-5 program can obtain green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship in exchange for their job-creating investment.

This program was created to stimulate the U.S. economy through the infusion of foreign capital tied specifically to job creation. For foreign nationals, the EB-5 program offers the opportunity to gain permanent resident status through investment. For developers, this program offers access to inexpensive financing.

To gain permanent resident status through the EB-5 program, a foreign national must invest in a new commercial enterprise—a broad classification that encompasses a variety of organizational structures as long as they are for-profit and were created or restructured after November 29, 1990. The minimum investment is currently $1,800,000, although certain rural areas or areas of higher-than-average unemployment, known as targeted employment areas (TEAs), may be eligible for a lower minimum investment of $900,000. TEAs are designated by USCIS and are subject to change. The capital investment in the new commercial enterprise must create 10 qualified full-time jobs. This investment can either be a direct investment by the foreign national into the new commercial enterprise or an indirect investment made through a regional center.

EB-5 Regional Centers: Why Do Most EB-5 Projects Use Regional Centers?

Regional centers are economic units created in 1992 by the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which has been extended by Congress with no changes several times since its inception. By affiliating with a regional center, an EB-5 investor enjoys less restrictive job creation requirements because in addition to direct jobs, indirect and induced jobs may be counted toward the program’s job creation requirement. Any public or private organization can seek regional center designation through USCIS.

USCIS has set aside no less than 3,000 EB-5 visas out of the 9,940 immigrant visas allotted by the INA each fiscal year specifically for designated regional centers based on proposals for promoting economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. Most EB-5 applications are currently conducted through regional centers. The regional center streamlines the process for potential EB-5 applicants by making it easier to demonstrate job creation. Specifically, only regional centers may use the indirect method of calculating jobs through an approved economic methodology. This means that investors need merely demonstrate their funds were spent according to the business plan versus showing actual job positions created and held for the two-year period. Another implicit benefit of this difference in job creation calculation is an overall increase in the total amount of EB-5 capital that can be raised for the investment project.

EB5AN maintains multiple USCIS-approved regional centers with broad geographic coverage, enabling it to immediately sponsor strong EB-5 projects across the United States.

Primary EB-5 Visa Investment Requirements

The primary EB-5 investment requirements can be summarized as follows:

1. Investing a minimum of $1.8 million, which is typically reduced to $900,000 for investments made in rural or high unemployment areas designated as TEAs. Most of EB5AN’s projects are located in TEAs to reduce the investor’s at-risk capital.

2. Creating or preserving at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers that last a minimum of two years.

3. Investing in a new commercial enterprise or a troubled business.

4. Maintaining the at-risk status of the investment, and using investment funds that have been lawfully sourced.

The EB-5 program has enjoyed strong support from Congress and as a result has grown dramatically since its inception, creating thousands of jobs for American citizens across the country. The EB-5 Affiliate Network is proud to continue to provide first-class service to EB-5 clients, developers, and investors in furtherance of this goal.

For more information on the EB-5 visa program, please contact us today.

The above summary of the EB-5 program should not be considered legal advice or a complete description of the program. Any prospective investor is strongly urged to contact a knowledgeable immigration attorney to review their specific circumstances.