Recent news about foreign companies pledging to bring jobs to the United States following the election of a new president has thrust U.S. visa programs into the spotlight. That makes this week a good time to review one of the most useful programs available: the EB-5 visa.
The EB-5 program is a way for foreigners to immigrate to the United States if they make an investment in a U.S. business. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS), administers the EB-5 immigrant investor program. EB-5 visas, also known as Employment-Based Fifth Preference visas, are immigrant visas. This means that EB-5 visa holders are granted a green card that allows them to eventually live and work in the United States. EB-5 visa holders can also bring a spouse and their unmarried children, under the age of 21, to the United States. Recent improvements in the EB-5 investor program by USCIS have led to a greater number of program applicants in recent years.
There are several requirements that foreign investors must meet to qualify for an EB-5 visa. The required investment is typically either $500,000 or $1 million, depending on where the business that receives the investment is located. Regardless of the amount, the EB-5 investment must lead to the creation of 10 full-time U.S. citizen jobs for at least a two-year period.
There are two investment options for EB-5 visa applicants. EB-5 applicants can invest as an individual (direct), or they can invest through an EB-5 Regional Center. If the applicant invests as an individual, then they must find their own project to invest in. They must also take a direct managerial role in overseeing their investment project. EB-5 applicants can also invest through EB-5 Regional Centers. EB-5 investment through a regional center carries several advantages. Regional centers are subject to more flexible EB-5 job creation requirements and can also typically pool greater investment amounts by attracting multiple investors. Regional centers enable the investor to take a more hands-off approach to the EB-5 program by requiring less direct involvement. Approximately 90 percent of applicants make their investment through a regional center.
Immigrants who successfully complete the EB-5 visa program by having their I-829 application accepted become lawful permanent residents of the United States. Permanent residents are given a green card, which enables to live and work in the United States permanently.
EB-5 investors have the opportunity to become United States citizens after they complete the program.To qualify to become a U.S. citizen, the EB-5 visa holders must first be permanent residents for at least five years. Then the EB-5 visa holder can go through the naturalization process which enables them to become United States citizens.