Visas & Green Cards

Re: EB 5 Investor Visa – Job Creation By Gloria Roa Bodin, Immigration Attorney

The immigrant investor, or EB-5, program is a highly beneficial permanent residence option for the wealthy individual. Since there is no quota waiting list in this preference category, it enables a foreign national to obtain permanent residence status more expeditiously than with most other options.

The EB-5 category requires an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in a TEA (high unemployment or rural area) in a commercial enterprise that will employ 10 full-time US workers.

Although the investor’s role cannot be completely passive, he or she does not have to be involved in any way in the day-to-day management of the business unless he or she wants to do so. It is critically important that the investor be able to document the lawful source of investment funds, whether his or her own or funds given to him or her as a gift. The permanent residence obtained by the investor is conditional for two years and can be made permanent upon satisfying United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at the end of the two years that the investment proceeds have not been withdrawn and the requisite 10 jobs have been created.

The investor may invest in his or her own commercial enterprise or in a commercial enterprise owned by other parties. The investor may also choose to invest in a pre- approved “regional center”. Regional centers are geographical areas for which USCIS has determined that investments will create the necessary 10 jobs per investor, whether directly or indirectly, in the geographical area. Virtually all of the regional centers are in geographical areas where $500,000 is the required amount of investment. Most of the regional centers involve limited partnership investments for which having the rights of a limited partner is considered sufficient to make the investor not completely passive. For the $500,000 investment it must be in a high unemployment area.

As mentioned, initially the investor and family are granted a conditional residency for two years. During those two years the company must hire ten full time employees. If the investment is in one of the regional centers mentioned, the ten employees may be indirect employees. For example, on a construction site the independent workers hired by the contractor qualify as indirect employees.