By: Danielle Huntley, Esq.
USCIS offers permanent residency, the green card, to foreign nationals who invest either $500,000.00 or $1,000,000.00 in U.S. businesses that create jobs for at least 10 U.S. workers within a 2 year period. This special immigration program, known as the EB-5 visa, can benefit both foreign nationals seeking a way to obtain permanent residency in the U.S., and businesses looking for foreign investment in their projects. These opportunities are available throughout the U.S.
The EB-5 program’s reach and use is only limited by the creativity of those wishing to utilize it. It is a useful tool because it enables high net worth individuals to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. with no requirement of taking an active role in the business, and enables U.S. companies to obtain job creating capital. Normally, an investment of $1,000,000.00 is required. However, this investment amount is reduced to $500,000.00 when the investment is made in either a troubled business or in an area of high unemployment.
Under the EB-5 investor program regulations, there are three ways to obtain the benefits of the program:
- A direct application by one or more foreign nationals who have invested in a qualifying investment.
- A passive investment by an individual foreigner in a Regional Center which has been pre-approved by USCIS.
- On or more business entities can apply to USCIS for approval of an entity that would qualify as a Regional Center.
A Regional Center is any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased exports sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. Under the EB-5 regulations, Regional Centers are also referred to generically as the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. There are currently 160 approved Regional Centers in the U.S.
Our next entry will describe what is required of a foreign investor to participate in this program.