The Immigration Act of 1990 established the EB-5 visa program to create US jobs through foreign national investment. The program is administered by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and provides permanent resident visas to foreign nationals who make an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in designated “target employment areas”) that creates or preserves a minimum of ten US jobs over two years.
A prospective investor can either invest directly into a US business or can invest through an USCIS-designated regional center. Every regional center application is carefully reviewed by USCIS, and its business plan and ability to create jobs are analyzed for compliance with EB-5 program requirements.
Upon USCIS approval of an investor’s “Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” (Form I-526), the investor and qualifying family members are able to apply for Conditional Permanent Residency in the United States (a green card) for two years. At the end of this two-year period, the investor must file the “Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions” (Form I-829). The USCIS will grant this petition, and the investor and qualifying family members will receive a permanent green card, if the EB-5 program requirements are met. Thereafter, the US permanent resident will be eligible to become a US citizen subject to the requirements for naturalization.
In addition to the $1 million or $500,000 capital investment, the USCIS has the following requirements for EB-5 investors:
- Proof that the capital has been invested prior to the filing of form I-526 for Conditional Permanent Residency
- Proof that the investment funds are of a legal nature
- The investment must be at risk (i.e. no guarantees or reserve accounts)
- The investor must be an “accredited investor” by meeting at least one of the following conditions:
- Net worth (or joint net worth with spouse) of over $1 million
- Income of over $200,000 or joint income with spouse of over $300,000 for the past two years, and expectations of a similar income this year
- Any other accredited investor as per Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933
There are other requirements and exceptions, but they are beyond the scope of this section. Your immigration attorney will be able to inform you of a more detailed list of requirements.