The U.S. EB-5 visa is a permanent visa and requires no future requalification, offering more advantages and fewer constraints than any other visa program in the world. The EB-5 visa has no requirements regarding age, business training, management skills, experience, or language skills.

01 The EB-5 Regional Center Investment Program

In 1990, Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category. This visa category is targeted at qualified foreign nationals seeking to obtain lawful permanent residency by investing in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create or save at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs. Currently the program
is administered by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The required investment per EB-5 participant is

$1 million, although that threshold could be reduced to $500,000 if the target investment occurs in a rural or high unemployment area.

In 1992, Congress created an additional component of the standard EB-5 program, the Regional Center Pilot Program. A Regional Center is a private or public entity designated by USCIS that is authorized to coordinate with multiple immigrant investors and to pool their investments for greater economic impact. Regional Centers are authorized to operate within defined geographic regions and within specific industry sectors.

There are several primary differences between the standard EB-5 program and the Regional Center Program. The Regional Center Program allows the use of economic modeling to determine the indirect and induced job creation impacts related to the investor’s capital contribution. This means that in the Regional Center Program, the EB-5 participant can count direct, indirect, and induced jobs. Investing through a Federally-designated Regional Center offers the EB-5 participant the most expeditious means for obtaining a permanent resident visa (Green Card). The Regional Center Program benefits EB-5 participant by directing and professionally managing the EB-5 investment in the designated business and geographic focus of the regional center.

There are several steps in the EB-5 immigration process for an EB-5 participant to earn a green card. Once the EB-5 participant selects a USCIS-approved Regional Center, the EB-5 participant files an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (Form I-526) requesting conditional residency. USCIS and the Department of State determine whether the EB-5 participant qualifies for the conditional EB-5 visa. Due diligence during this part of the process includes a detailed review of the sources of the EB-5 participant’s funds, family history, and other representations of the head of household, their spouse, and qualified family members under the age of 21. This petition also includes a thorough description of the EB-5 investment project and any economic models used to determine indirect or induced job creation. If approved, the EB-5 petitioner first receives a conditional green card that is valid for two years.

Near the end of the two-year period of conditional residency, the EB-5 participant files another petition with USCIS, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions (Form I-829). This petition demonstrates that the EB-5 participant’s capital was
fully invested and at risk during the two-year period and that the requisite 10 qualifying jobs have been created. Upon approval of the I-829, the EB-5 participant and his or her qualified family members become lawful permanent residents and can ultimately choose to become U.S. citizens. The entire EB-5 process has normally taken approximately 4-6 years depending upon the timeliness, quality, and validity of the EB-5 participant’s submissions, as well as the region of the world in which they come from. This timeline does not take into account certain applicants.

The U.S. EB-5 visa is a permanent visa and requires no future requalification, offering more advantages and fewer constraints than any other visa program in the world. The EB-5 visa has no requirements regarding age, business training, management skills, experience, or language skills.

02 Benefits & Requirements

The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The EB-5 program affords foreign nationals and their spouses and unmarried children under age 21 the ability to obtain a U.S. visa based solely upon a minimum investment in a for-profit enterprise that creates or retains a specified number of jobs. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Areas – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family.

03 History of Program

Congress created the employment-based fifth preference category (EB-5) visa program in 1990 to “create jobs for U.S. workers and to infuse new capital into the U.S. economy.” At that time the program was directed towards “alien entrepreneurs” who would not only invest $1 million or $500,000 in a “new commercial enterprise” but would also “engage in the management of the new enterprise” creating ten full-time jobs for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. In order to make the program more investor-friendly, Congress enacted the 1993 Appropriations Act which amended the EB-5 program to create the “Pilot Immigration Program” — the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (IIPP).

Under the IIPP, foreign nationals could invest in a pre-approved regional center, or “economic unit [referred to as regional centers], public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment”.Investments within a regional center provide foreign nationals the added benefit of allowing them to count jobs created both directly and indirectly for purposes of meeting 10-job creation requirement. This was intended to help potential investors to meet “the program’s stringent requirements” through passive investment. With the IIPP, the EB-5 visa became an investors visa as opposed to an entrepreneur’s visa.

04 Regulatory bodies

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is committed to strict adherence to securities and all applicable laws and considers some “EB-5 offerings” to be securities covered under U.S. securities laws. “[C]ompanies and individuals that sell EB-5 investments cannot “defraud investors, make false claims or fail to mention relevant information”.

U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets guidelines for EB-5 projects and monitors compliance with immigration rules. Under EB-5 visa guidelines, “investors must put their capital at risk and the green card is not guaranteed”. The USCIS also evaluates approvals for regional centers.