EB-5 Visa for Foreign Investor

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There are many ways to legally immigrate to the U.S. One of the most flexible ways is through investment, through so called EB-5 visa. There are 3 ways to utilize EB-5 visa. They are 1) creating a new business, 2) investing in a troubled business, 3) investing in a Regional Center pilot program. Among these three, investing in a designated Regional Center is by far the simplest way to get an EB-5 visa.

U.S. gives 10,000 investor visas each year, but 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program called “Regional Center.” This program was created by Congress in 90s to encourage foreign investment in the U.S. A Regional Center is a private enterprise, or corporation, or governmental agency with a targeted investment program. This program in many ways mirrors investment-employment based programs in United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other nations.

How does it work?

First, let us look at applying EB-5 visa through creating a new business enterprise. To qualify, you must:

  1. Invest at least $1,000,000. If your investment is in a Targeted Employment Area*, then minimum investment is $500,000.
  2. Provide goods or services and create at least 10 full-time employments. Employees must be lawfully authorized to work in the U.S.
  3. Investor must manage the business.

*Targeted Employment Area is defined as: rural area or area that has high unemployment of 150% of national average.

Second, let us look at applying EB-5 visa through investing in a troubled business. To qualify, you must:

  1. Invest at least $1,000,000, or $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area.
  2. Invest in a business that has existed for at least 2 years, and has experienced at least 20% of loss for the prior 12 to 24 month.
  3. Maintain the prior number of jobs.
  4. Investor must manage the business.

Finally, let us look at applying EB-5 visa through investing in Regional Center pilot programs. To qualify, you must:

  1. Invest $500,000 in a Regional Center.
  2. Create at least 10 new full-time jobs through investment in Regional Center*.

*For Regional Center program, the requirement of creating at least 10 new jobs is met by a showing that as a result of the new enterprise, such jobs will be created directly or indirectly.

Basic Process

The basic process for the above three methods is similar and is through petition. This is a flowchart illustrates the basic process.

  1. The investor must decide which method to use. He/she can invest $500,000 or $1million, usually in escrow, plus syndication fee, in a particular Regional Center or in his/her own company. If an investor is interested in a Regional Center, he must get the approval from the Regional Center as an EB-5 investor. Investor is advised to work closely with attorneys and independent analyst to ensure the best outcome of the investment. Hiring an immigration attorney is normally not sufficient. Investor is advised to engage a business attorney as well to safeguard his/her interest in this business venture. Moreover, since most Regional Centers invest in real estate, an experienced real estate attorney will render valuable guidance to the foreign investor.
  2. The attorney represents the investor prepares and submits relevant petition to USCIS for an Alien Entrepreneur status. If the petition is denied, investor should discuss with the attorney to find another way of immigration. He will get his money back from the escrow account.
  3. If the petition is approved, the attorney must file another application to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the United States. The EB-5 investor and his family members are granted conditional permanent residence for a two year period upon entry into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa.
  4. Another petition is filed by the attorney to remove conditions. It must be filed 90 days prior to the two year anniversary of the granting of the EB-5 applicant’s conditional Green Card. If the petition is denied, the investor must consult with the attorney to seek another route for immigration, or file the case in the court and let an immigration judge to decide the outcome.
  5. If the petition to remove condition is approved by USCIS, the EB-5 investor will be issued a new Green Card without any further conditions attached to it. He/She will be allowed to permanently live and work in the U.S. The whole EB-5 process takes approximately 3-5 years, depending upon the timeliness, quality and validity of the investor’s submissions.
  6. After 3 more years, the investor is eligible for U.S. citizenship.

Lei Jiang Law Firm has more detailed information about EB-5 Visa for serious investors. Please call us at (440)835-2271 or email your request to info@leijianglaw.com.

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