EB-5 visas and the Regional Center
The EB-5 visa provides an excellent opportunity for foreign investors to obtain a "green card" and eventual naturalization. At the present time there is no wait time for an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
An EB-5 investor must invest in a new commercial enterprise which is defined as a for-profit activity for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:
- A sole proprietorship
- Partnership (limited or general)
- Holding company
- Joint venture
- Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.
We are often asked if this includes a noncommercial activity such as owning a personal residence. The answer is, unfortunately, NO. The investment must be a commercial enterprise and must create jobs. Specifically, the investment must create 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers within two years of the immigrant investor's admission to the U.S. with a green card.
An exception to the job creation requirement is when the investment indirectly creates jobs when affiliated with a Regional Center.
Note that the required minimum investment for an EB-5 visa is $1 million. However, if the investment is in a "targeted employment area", which is an area that has high unemployment or a rural area, the minimum qualifying investment is $500,000.
The investment may be cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the foreign investor.
What is a Regional Center?
As stated earlier, an investment in a Regional Center expands the concept of job creation to include both indirect and direct jobs. Before you can invest in a Regional Center it must have previously been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as an economic entity which is a designated participant in the EB-5 Pilot Program. The USCIS has determined that the econometric models and business plans appear to be feasible and that jobs should be directly or indirectly created through investment in the approved industry categories.
The prior approval of USCIS helps smooth the EB-5 process. However, it does not guarantee that there is no risk. In fact, an investor in a Regional Center is normally a limited partner and has little or no control of the investment once it is made. If the USCIS later determines that the money invested in the Regional Center is not "truly at risk" or that insufficient jobs were created through the investment, the investor's petition for an unconditional green card could be denied. Furthermore, the Regional Center could fail causing you to lose your investment. Therefore, investors should exercise due diligence when making an EB-5 investment.
If you are a foreign investor interested in obtaining a green card, contact the attorneys at Tucker & Ludin. We can discuss the EB-5 option as well as other opportunities to immigrate including employment and family based petitions. If you are interested in investing in a Regional Center, we can suggest names of entities for you to investigate and work with them and with you to assist in your efforts to obtain your green card. Call us at 727-572-5000 or contact us through the website.