As we all know, obtaining an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. is not always the easiest thing to do, much less becoming a permanent resident. Besides receiving a Green Card through family or a job, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers investors the possibility to become a Permanent Resident through the EB-5 Visa Program.
This program is designed to stimulate economic activity and job growth by encouraging foreign investment into â€œTargeted Employment Areasâ€ of the U.S. that are defined as rural or that are affected by an unemployment rate of at least 1.5 times the national average. Sectors targeted for investment and approved by USCIS include: Manufacturing, Insurance, Healthcare, Accommodations, Finance, Retail, Construction, Real Estate, Food Service and Affordable Housing. By participating in the EB-5 program, investors will create jobs for U.S. workers and at the same time, grant themselves and their family the chance to immigrate to the U.S. and become Permanent Residents.
USCIS will authorize up to 10,000 Visas per fiscal year for eligible entrepreneurs. Qualified investors and their families will receive Conditional 2-year Resident status, and after this time, they can apply for Unconditional Permanent Residency if the investment & job creation requirements of the program are met.
In order to participate in the EB-5 Visa Program, an investor must first select between 2 options:
- Traditional EB-5 Program: involves investing $1Million into a business, actively managing it and creating at least 10 direct jobs.
- EB-5 Regional Center Program: involves investing at least $500K in a Targeted Employment Area. In this scenario, the program allows developers to pool foreign/immigrant investor funds into a Limited Partnership and invest its capital into projects approved by USCIS. Here, because the 10 jobs can be created directly or indirectly and the required investment amount is lower, the Regional Center Program is the most popular choice.
The EB-5 Visa Programs have several benefits such as:
- The investor can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21
- Investor is NOT required to live in the area or the State where the Regional Center is located and is not required to work at the project either.
- By June 2014, there were more than 500 Regional Centers Investment Programs to choose from and the number is increasing.
- Every Regional Center Program has an exit strategy after complying with all the requirements.
- There are NO requirements regarding business/training experience or language skills.
- No age or travel restrictions.
- The investor does not have to be continuously present in the U.S.
- Same benefits as every other United States Resident.
- Admission at U.S. schools, colleges and universities at U.S. Resident costs.
- Ability to become a U.S. Citizen after 5 years.
- Ability to sponsor Green Cards for other relatives.
It is very important to note that the EB-5 Visa Program is mostly designed for qualified foreign investors with high net worth and/or very â€œhealthyâ€ income. Also, selecting a Regional Center is not always easy and some projects can put the investment under great risk. This is why it is recommended to consult with a good Visa Attorney before making any decisions. Ask your Realtor if he can recommend a skilled immigration lawyer.
For more detailed information regarding the EB-5 Eligibility Criteria, Application Process and all of USCIS requirements, please visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at: http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-through-job/green-card-through-investment
article by: Adrian Morales Dobrzynski