When the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was first created in 1990, it didn’t garner a lot of attention, and for years, the program failed to dole out the majority of the visas allocated to it each year. The 2008 crisis was a turning point, and what started as a slow increase blossomed into skyrocketing demand, with EB-5 investment applications reaching a peak in 2018. Though the program has since seen a decrease—due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic—it remains a widely popular option for foreign nationals seeking U.S. permanent resident status. But what exactly is it that makes the EB-5 program so popular?
Immigration to the United States is difficult, and most immigration programs come with tight restrictions and time limits. For example, students on F-1 visas are generally prohibited from undertaking employment, and after they graduate, their valid U.S. status expires. Many holders of work visas, including the popular H-1B visa, have to find a company willing to sponsor them for employment, are restricted from taking additional jobs (including most freelance work), and are only permitted to stay for a finite period of time. Even other investment immigration programs pose strict limitations. For example, to enter the United States on an E-2 visa, an investor must hold citizenship from a treaty country.
The EB-5 program is different because, essentially, the only requirement is to make an EB-5 investment in a qualifying project with lawfully obtained capital. As long as the EB5 investment capital is at least $1.8 million (or $900,000 for targeted employment area [TEA] projects), the funds remain at risk throughout the entire investment period, and the investor can demonstrate the creation of at least 10 new, full-time jobs for U.S. workers, nationals from any country, of any age and occupation, are free to participate. This opens up a route to U.S. immigration for those who are unable to procure employment sponsorship or who are not from a treaty country.
Relatively Quick Immigration
The EB-5 investment program is notorious for its long processing times, so a prospective investor may initially shy away from the program due to the wait times. However, compared to other EB programs, such as the EB-2 program, EB-5 processing times are relatively speedy—even for investors from backlogged countries.
The contrast is particularly stark for Indian nationals: in the April 2021 Visa Bulletin, the final action dates for Indian nationals in the EB-2 and EB-3 programs are stuck at 2010, while for the EB-5 program, Indian nationals have a current final action date. What that means is that Indian nationals who filed for EB-2 and EB-3 visas in 2010 and after are still waiting to receive their visas, 11 years later. Indian nationals who have made an EB5 investment, on the other hand, face no such restrictions in the April 2021 Visa Bulletin. There was previously an EB-5 backlog for Indians, but it cleared up in the July 2020 Visa Bulletin and has never returned.
Green Cards for Family at No Additional Expense
Naturally, anyone with a family who makes an EB5 investment wants to immigrate to the United States with their family. In fact, for many investors, obtaining U.S. green cards for their children is one of the key motivations for making an EB-5 investment in the first place. After all, with U.S. green cards for the whole family, an investor can send their children through the U.S. public school system for free, and when their children become college-aged, they can enroll in U.S. colleges and universities more easily.
In the EB-5 program, a single EB-5 investment qualifies not only the principal investor but also their spouse and unmarried children younger than 21 for U.S. permanent resident status. Investors need not invest extra capital to sponsor their family for EB-5 visas, and there is no limitation on the number of children they can sponsor, as long as they are all unmarried and younger than 21 when the I-526 petition is submitted.
Ultimate Freedom and Minimal Risk with EB-5 Regional Center Investments
Part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements for EB-5 investments is the obligation to participate in the management of the new commercial enterprise (NCE). In a direct EB5 investment, where the investor invests their capital directly in the NCE, this usually entails day-to-day managerial labor, requiring the investor to move close to the NCE location. However, if an investor chooses to invest through an EB-5 regional center, they have much more freedom regarding the participation requirement.
Regional center investors still need to demonstrate managerial involvement to USCIS, but they can usually satisfy this requirement simply by signing on as a limited partner and voting on important matters. They can do this remotely from anywhere in the United States, so an investor can, for example, invest in an EB-5 project in Georgia, yet set up house on the sunny shores of Hawaii.
But freedom isn’t the only advantage of regional center EB5 investment. Reputable regional centers, which have been examined and approved by USCIS, are run by EB-5 industry experts who carefully vet the projects they offer to ensure low immigration and financial risk for their investors. Regional center operators can provide their investors with carefully produced project documentation and TEA designation paperwork to include in their I-526 petition, streamlining the application process and reducing the risk of denials or delays.
The World’s Best Investment Immigration Program
Though the United States is a favorite immigration destination for foreign nationals around the world, it isn’t the only option. Other wealthy, highly developed nations, such as Canada, the UK, and Australia, also offer a high standard of living and welcome countless immigrants every year. However, none of these countries have an immigration program as enticing as the EB-5 program.
In the past, Canada and Australia offered their own residency-by-investment programs, but both have been discontinued. The UK immigrant investor program is still running, but the minimum required investment amount is a whopping $2.75 million, making it unattainable for many investors. Therefore, the EB-5 program is easily the best choice for foreign nationals around the world. An EB-5 investment is not just an investment in the United States—it’s also an investment in your future.