THE EB-5 PROGRAM:
The EB-5 program grants 10,000 U.S. visas per year for foreign nationals who make qualifying investments in US industry that result in the creation of at least ten (10) full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Visas are also granted to the investor’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
Two distinct EB-5 pathways are available for an immigrant investor to gain lawful permanent residence for themselves and their immediate family; the Basic Program and the Regional Center Pilot Program. Both programs require that the immigrant make an “at-risk” capital investment of either $500,000 or $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise located within the United States. (Investment depends on whether the investment is in a designated Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or not. TEA is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.”)
Regional Centers were created to identify projects and provide EB-5 visa applicants with investment opportunities that fulfill all USCIS requirements and create the required jobs in order to secure visas for the EB-5 investors. An investment in a project promoted by a Regional Center does not require the investor to manage their investment or the on a day-to-day basis.
A Regional Center is defined by the USCIS as any economic entity, public or private, which seeks to promote economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment. Regional Center designation is granted through the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
Entities seeking Regional Center status, are required to submit a proposal supported by economically or statistically valid forecasting tools, showing how the regional center will promote economic growth in the region it seeks designation, how the required jobs will be created by the business plan, the amount of capital committed to the regional center as well as the promotional efforts planed for the project and how it will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy.
ADVANTAGES OF THE REGIONAL CENTER PROGRAM:
The Regional Center Program carries considerable advantages over the Basic Program (also known as Direct EB-5). Direct EB-5 requires foreign nationals to invest directly into a job-creating project over which they exert managerial control while in the Regional Center context, investments are passive and do not require the investor to manage their investment or the company on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, while both pathways require a minimum of 10 jobs to be created per investor, Regional Centers hold the distinct advantage of being able to count jobs created both directly and indirectly toward their job creation quota, while direct investment allows for only jobs created directly through the investment to be included.
Because of these inherent advantages, nearly 90% of all EB-5 investments are currently made through the Regional Center Program.
The minimum investment required for the EB-5 program is $1,000,000. However, if the investment is made in a TEA – “Targeted Employment Area” (an area with High Unemployment or a Rural Area), the minimum qualifying investment is reduced to $500,000. The investment must be made with funds belonging to the applicant and all capital used for investment must be acquired through lawful means.
- Qualifying investors, their spouse and any unmarried minor children under the age of 21 will be granted US Lawful Permanent Residency.
- The process for EB-5 visa fulfillment is significantly expedited as compared with other employment and family-based green card categories
- The investor and his/her family may live/work anywhere in the United States.
- The investor and his/her family will receive education benefits including admission to Universities at US resident costs.
- After five years, the investor and their family may obtain US citizenship, subject to meeting all immigration requirements, as required under law.
- There is no minimum requirement as to age, no requirement to speak English, employment experience, or education requirement.
- There is no “sponsor” requirement for the EB-5 program.
For information on relevant EB-5 law and regulations please visit the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services website.