EB5 Investor Visa Program

The EB-5 visa program was created by the US Congress in 1990. Its purpose was to stimulate the US economy through capital investment and job creation by foreign investors. The program was initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and has been regularly reauthorized since then.

The EB-5 visa program allows non-US citizens to obtain lawful US permanent residence (by obtaining a Green Card) in the US for themselves, their spouse and their minor unmarried children (under the age of 21) by making a certain level of EB5 investment in a US business and creating a specified number of jobs for US workers. It is an efficient route to US permanent resident status within a short period of time.

An applicant can apply for an EB-5 investor visa irrespective of age, business experience & English language proficiency. EB5 investors granted a Green Card are allowed to settle anywhere in the US. One is eligible for US Citizenship after 5 years provided residency requirements & other minor requirements for naturalization are met.

EB5 Investment Requirement:

The EB-5 investors are required to make a minimum investment in any one of the following 2 categories, and in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional centre in the US:

  • GENERAL: The minimum qualifying investment under this category is USD 1.8 million.
  • TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA (HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT OR RURAL AREA): The minimum qualifying investment under this category is USD 900,000. In this category, the investment is made in approved EB-5 regional centres.

An EB5 investor is required to establish that he/she is the legal owner of the capital invested, and that no asset has been acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means.

Job Creation Requirements

For every USD 900,000 or USD 1,800,000 (as the case may be) EB5 investment in a “new commercial enterprise” or a “Regional Center”, the enterprise must create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying US based employees.

Regional Centres

A critical component of the EB-5 visa program, there are currently 692 approved “Regional Centres” that have been designated by USCIS for participation in the EB-5 visa program across all states in the US. Some regional centres may operate in multiple states.

Please note that USCIS approval of an EB-5 Regional Centre does not in any way:

  • Constitute USCIS endorsement of the activities of that Regional Centre
  • Guarantee compliance with US Securities laws, or
  • Minimize or eliminate risk to the investor

Some factors that one should look at while choosing the right Regional Centre to invest in are:

  • Experience of management team
  • Track record of its previous projects on both I-526s and I-829s
  • Analyze the current project to see if the fundamentals of the business are sound
  • Type of investments in the project i.e. loan based or equity based
  • Review other partners involved
  • Return on investment
  • Repayment structure of the project
  • ‘Exit strategy’ of the project

EB-5 investors are subject to the same background checks and national security screenings as applicants in any other visa category.

Choosing the right “Regional Center” is critical to the success of your EB-5 visa application. There have been many instances of fraud in the Regional Center landscape, with investors losing their investments or being drawn into endless legal battles. Migratesmart® guarantees the safety of your investment in a Regional Center that is backed by strong fundamentals. It would be prudent for every EB-5 investor to analyze & plan their EB-5 investment based on timelines, due diligence on the business viability of the project & of course pre-immigration tax planning.

Also read :

Selecting an EB-5 investment? Five things you need to know

US SEC and USCIS guidelines to protect oneself from EB-5 fraud