The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program was established to create U.S. jobs by attracting foreign capital to the United States. It allows certain foreign investors to qualify for permanent residence. The basic requirements for this program are an investment of $1 million dollars (or $500,000 in a high unemployment or rural area) in a commercial enterprise that will create full-time employment for at least ten (10) workers.
The investment funds may be held in escrow contingent upon approval of permanent residency. The establishment of a “new US company” may be accomplished through any of the following methods:
The creation of an original business; or
The purchase of the assets of an existing business if the investor makes substantial changes in the organization or operation of the business; or
The expansion of an existing business and making a substantial change in the net worth or number of employees of the company.
A passive real estate investment or simple ownership of shares of stock does not qualify for fifth preference immigration. However, active participation as a member of a Board of Directors of a qualifying company in which the funds are invested will meet the requirements. Permanent residence is conditional for the first two years under the fifth preference immigrant category.
Shortly before the investor’s second year of permanent residence, the investor must document that the investment was properly capitalized, the business remains viable, and that it continues to meet all other requirements. At that point, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will grant unconditional permanent residence to the investor and dependent family members.
The investor may also choose to invest in a pre-approved “Regional Center.”
USCIS defines a Regional Center as “any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment.” In more simple terms, a Regional Center is an area designated by the USCIS as eligible to receive immigrant investor capital.