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EB-5 Program FAQs

FAQs

Overview - The EB-5 Visa Program

The purpose of the EB-5 program is to promote the immigration of people who can create jobs for U.S. workers through their investment of capital into the United States economy. The program was established in 1990 to bring new investment capital into the country and to create new jobs for U.S. workers. The EB-5 program promotes the immigration of people who invest capital in new, restructured, or expanded businesses and projects in the United States and help create or preserve needed jobs for U.S. workers by doing so.

In the EB-5 program, immigrants who invest capital in job-creating businesses and projects in the United States receive conditional permanent resident status for a two-year period. After two years, if the immigrants have satisfied the conditions of the EB-5 program and other criteria of eligibility, the conditions are removed and the immigrants become unconditional lawful permanent resident of the United States.

EB-5 Highlights

  • The U. S. EB–5 Immigrant Investor Visa program allows foreign investors who make qualified investments and create permanent jobs in designated projects certified by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to be granted lawful permanent residency along with family members under the age of 21.
  • EB–5 is one of the fastest ways to obtain permanent U. S. residency.
  • Presently, 10,000 immigrant (permanent) visas per year are available to foreign investors and their family members who meet certain, very specific criteria. These criteria are interpreted very strictly by USCIS. 
  • EB–5 investors and their families are free to live, work, and travel in the United States immediately after their initial application is approved.
  • Once investment requirements and job creation criteria are met, investors and their families are automatically qualified for lawful permanent residency with no additional US employment requirements.

EB 5 Visa FAQ

Please note, these FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) are for informational purposes only and they are not meant to be a substitute for professional legal and/or financial advice. Please consult an immigration business attorney and/or qualified financial expert before choosing any EB-5 investment.

The Investor Portal works with a broker dealer - what is a broker dealer?

A broker dealer is a company that engages in the business of trading securities for its own account or on behalf of its customers. Broker-dealers are at the heart of the securities trading process. They are licensed and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a unit of the U.S. government, as well as Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Why is a broker-dealer important for EB-5 transactions?

The SEC has advised that EB-5 investment offerings are subject to US securities laws even though EB-5 investments are typically offered outside of the United States to non-US residents. So, in order for EB-5 investments to be offered in the US, a broker dealer must be involved to comply with SEC regulations.

What are the benefits of working with a broker-dealer?

The Investor Portal and its projects are supported by a fully licensed broker dealer with 30 years of experience as a merchant, corporate and investment banking firm. Increased investor confidence – feel confident and protected because projects on the Investor Portal are being offered in compliance with US securities laws. Enhanced project compliance and accountability - with a broker dealer acting as the private placement agent, it provides monitoring, supervision and an approval role in the EB-5 project in compliance with applicable regulations.

What is the minimum amount of investment required?

Investments in "targeted employment areas” (TEA), including most regional center projects, can qualify with a minimum of $500,000. For investments in areas other than TEA, the minimum amount of investment is $1,000,000. The projects on the Investor Portal are typically regional center projects located in a TEA zone so the investment amount is $500,000.

What is a "targeted employment area?"

A targeted employment area is a rural area or a geographical area that has experienced unemployment at a rate of at least 150% of the national average rate. Individual states are authorized to designate geographical areas within the state that qualify as targeted employment areas.

Can all of the invested funds be a gift or a loan?

Yes. However, the person giving the gift must prove the lawful source of the gifted funds. Loans may come from an individual residing inside or outside the USA or from a foreign or domestic corporation. The corporation must also prove lawful source of funds. One of the most popular EB-5 investment options is for parents to donate the investment amount as a gift to their son or daughter and have them become the EB-5 investor. For example, a father, mother or relatives donate the $500K to a son or daughter. The son or daugther submits an I-526 as the E-5 Investor and obtains a U.S.Green Card.

Are there potential benefits when applying to U.S. colleges?

Yes. No student quota, lower tuition costs and access to scholarships. Given the overwhelming surge in applications from international students, the competition for acceptance into American universities is fiercer than ever increasing approximately 10% per year.

Are there potential career benefits?

Yes. You are not subject to annual H1-B visa lottery, there is no need to find a local company sponsor and you have job mobility.

Are there other important benefits I should be aware of?

Yes - there are several. It is easy to qualify because there are no specialized skills required. There are no travel or age restrictions, and no language skills requirement. The EB-5 visa can be a 'residency safety valve' - a back-up plan in situations of political instability or crisis. The investment is a hedge against local currency depreciation. Investors use the U.S. dollar denominated EB-5 investment as a depreciation hedge vs. local currency. No Expiration Date. The U.S. green card does not expire nor do your children lose their residency status when they turn 21.

What documentation must be presented to prove that the investor's funds came from a lawful source?

Generally, the investor will present some combination of individual and/or business tax returns, employment records, documentation regarding sale of or dividends from a business, documentation regarding gifts or inheritance, and documentation regarding securities or real estate transactions.

Are there any restrictions on the types of businesses in which the investment must be made?

The investment must be in a "new commercial enterprise" in the United States. "New" means that the investment must have been made after November 29, 1990. "Commercial" is to be distinguished from a passive, speculative investment, such as a purchase of real estate for use as a personal residence or for potential appreciation in value (as opposed to an active real estate development project). The U.S. investment can be: (1) the creation of a new business; (2) the purchase of an existing business, which is reorganized to form a new enterprise; or (3) the expansion of an existing business.

Must the investor have any specific relationship with the U.S. business in which the investment is made?

The investor need not own any specific percentage of the business, be an officer of the business or be an employee of the business. However, the investor must be engaged in some way in the business, whether through actual day-to-day managerial control, by being a member of the board of directors, by being a limited partner, or the like.

Must the investment result in the creation of employment for U.S. workers?

The investment must create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. citizens or immigrants (permanent resident aliens and other specified immigrant categories). The required 10 positions cannot include the investor or the investor’s spouse or children. The 10 jobs must be for employees of the enterprise in which the investment is made and cannot include independent contractors. However, for approved regional centers, the creation of employment can include indirect and induced employment.

When must the employment be created?

The EB-5 petition must document that the required 10 jobs will be created within a 2 1/2 year period immediately following the approval of the EB-5 petition.

Is the immigration status granted to the investor valid indefinitely?

The permanent resident status granted to the investor is actually a "conditional permanent resident status" that is valid for a period of up to two years. The investor and family members are required to remove the condition by filing an application during the 90 day period preceding the second anniversary of obtaining this status. The petition must demonstrate the establishment of the business, the investment of the requisite amount of capital and the creation of the required number of jobs.

Do all family members get conditional permanent residence status at the same time?

The investor, his or her spouse and any unmarried, under 21-year-old children can obtain permanent residency at the same time and through a single investment of the mother or father.

Is the investor free to travel after obtaining conditional permanent resident status?

The investor is free to travel in and out of the United States subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent residents. Specifically, the investor must maintain a residence in the United States and must not be outside the United States for a continuous period of one year or more, unless a reentry permit has been obtained.

What is the procedure for an investor to qualify as an immigrant based upon the investment?

Form I-526, "Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur," must be filed with USCIS. The petition must be supported by a substantial amount of documentation proving that the investor meets all of the requirements. Once the petition is approved, the investor may either apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consul or, if the investor is in the United States, apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

Where is the application filed?

Form I-526 is filed with the USCIS. The application for conditional permanent residence is filed with USCIS if the investor is in the U.S. or through the National Visa Center if the investor will be outside of the U.S. and attending an interview at the U.S. Consulate in the home country. The condition removal petition, Form I-829, is filed with the USCIS.

What is the timing of this process?

The I-526 petition is generally reviewed after approximately 1 year for a regional center EB-5. The conditional permanent residence process generally takes between six and twelve months depending upon whether the investor is in the U.S. or, if outside of the U.S., which consulate will be interviewing the investor.

What documents must be filed with the petition?

The basic rule is that there must be documentation to establish each of the requirements set forth above. Specifically, documentation must prove the actual transfer or commitment of funds; the lawful source of the investor's funds; the location of the investment in a targeted employment area (if the investment is less than $1,000,000); the investment in a new commercial enterprise; the involvement of the investor in the business; and the actual creation of 10 full-time positions or a comprehensive business plan showing the need for the 10 employees and the approximate dates when they will be hired. Specific additional documents will be required depending upon the details of the investor and the investment being made.

What must be proven in order to obtain removal of conditions on permanent residence?

The investor must prove that the investment has been sustained – not withdrawn – and that the requisite jobs have been created.

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