by Contributor

(May 13, 2022) — Given the media buzz around future changes to United States visas and immigration restrictions, immigration consultants are touting EB5 as an “easy” route to obtain an American Green Card.

What Is An EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 visa, established in 1990 as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, allows foreign investors to gain permanent residency (green card) in the United States.

The EB-5 visa has become a significant source of funding for development projects in the United States since its inception.

The Three Basic Requirements

A foreign investor must fulfill three basic requirements to be eligible for using the EB-5 program which we’ll cover in detail below :

  1. The foreign citizen must make a minimum investment of $1 million in a New Commercial Enterprise in the United States (or $500,000 if the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area);
  2. For section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration Act of 1990, the foreign national must demonstrate that the capital invested is from a legitimate source (e.g., was not earned via illegal activity).
  3. The foreign national must demonstrate that the investment has created at least ten new employment for American employees. The jobs need to be maintained for a minimum of two years.

Aside from the principal foreign investor, their spouse and unmarried children under 21 are also eligible for permanent residency (green card).

What is a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)?

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program requires a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) for the following reasons: If your project is in a targeted employment region or a rural location, the eligible investment limit is reduced from $1,000,000 to $500,000.

TEA is an area with at least 150% of the national unemployment rate, as established by the state. According to the most recent decennial census, a rural area is any region outside a metropolitan statistical area or the perimeter of any city or town with 20,000 or more.

Source of funds

USCIS closely checks where an applicant’s money comes from and the flow of that money to prevent money laundering and address security issues. Proving the legal source and course of an EB-5 investor’s investment funds is crucial.

The money invested by an EB-5 applicant might come from various sources. One possibility is a salary; other possible legal sources include stocks, equities, and bank account deposits. 

All investment funds must indicate their originating source for any sources.

The Steps to Getting Permanent Residency with the EB-5 Visa

Investors must file a petition after making their capital investment, and if the acquisition is approved, they can acquire a two-year conditional residency card. 

This card permits investors to live and work in the United States lawfully. Applicants who can show they have satisfied the EB-5 standards after two years receive permanent resident Green Cards, leading to United States citizenship prospects after five years.

The USCIS issues EB-5 visas to people worldwide, and over the past ten years, applications have increased from a mere 1,200 to more than 12,100 in 2017.

Entities that fall under the EB-5 program

You should conduct your due research before investing in an EB-5 project, just as you would with any other investment. 

The applicant for an EB-5 visa must invest in a for-profit United States firm known as a new commercial enterprise (NCE). Corporations, partnerships, business trusts, and other privately or publicly held company forms are all possible formations for an NCE.

Direct investments are made in the company that is providing the jobs. Investments in regional centers are made through an NCE, or EB-5 fund, which subsequently lends the investor money to the job-creating organization (JCE).

Benefits of an EB-5 Visa Program

The EB-5 program, unlike other visas, does not need a sponsor, unique expertise, skills, or prior experience. It permits investors to bring their families to the United States, including their spouses and unmarried children under 21, and they can access a United States education. 

EB-5 visas and admission into the United States can be obtained faster than other immigration choices. The program also attracts foreign capital to help fund growth in the United States, particularly in economically depressed areas, which is the fundamental purpose of the EB-5 visa program.

It also brings solid entrepreneurs and business leaders from other countries to the United States.

The EB-5 investor program is designed to produce a “win-win” situation for all parties engaged or affected.

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