Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EB-5 Investor Program

Please read the following carefully, as major changes are coming to the U.S. EB-5 investor program on November 21, 2019. These changes are discussed below.

What is the EB-5 Investor Program?

The EB-5 visa is an employment-based visa that creates a path for individuals to obtain a U.S. green card through investment. A green card is lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. and can lead to becoming a U.S. citizen. The purpose of this program is to encourage wealthy foreign individuals to invest in the U.S. economy by granting them lawful permanent residence status. It can be a lengthy process.

There is a limit on how many EB-5 investor visas are granted. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has capped this amount at 10,000 visas in a fiscal year. There are also caps on how many investors can come from each foreign country. Until recently, these caps had never been met. If either the cap of 10,000 applicants or a country-specific limit is met for a fiscal year, the applicant will be put on a waiting list. There has been a recent increase in applications from Asian countries like China and India. Applicants from these countries may need to anticipate being put on a waiting list.

The EB-5 visa is a conditional visa. The green card that is granted will expire after two years. 90 days before it expires, the applicant can file with the USCIS to remove all conditions to the visa. Finally, the applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 can accompany the EB-5 visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of the length of the visa.

How do I qualify for the EB-5 visa?

To obtain an EB-5 visa, the applicant must invest money in the U.S. Merely paying a large sum of money and investing in the U.S. economy is not enough to qualify for the EB-5 visa. The applicant must also be willing to take a significant role in the company they are investing in. Lastly, the money the applicant is investing must be used to help create jobs.

The amount of money the applicant invests is also important. The exact amount needed will be changing on November 21, 2019. Prior to this date, an individual will need to invest between $500,000 to $1 million U.S. dollars. After November 21, 2019, the rates of investment rise to between $900,000 to $1.8 million dollars. The USCIS will reevaluate these rates every five years and account for inflation.

Finally, it matters where the applicant wants to invest their money. If the investment goes to a rural or high unemployment rate area, then the investment can be at the lower end of the rates above. For example, if the investment is made in a company in rural Utah and the application is submitted before November 21, 2019, then $500,000 would probably be enough of an investment to qualify for the EB-5 visa.

What is the process to apply for an EB-5 visa?

A foreign individual wanting to apply for an EB-5 visa can start the process in several ways. The most common method is to use a regional center. These are organizations located in the U.S. that are approved by the USCIS for the specific purpose of assisting in the investor program by helping to use the money given to create jobs. They help applicants through the process and help them find companies to invest in. This is an easy way to meet the investment and job creation requirements without having to start or restructure a company.

Alternatively, the investor can decide to either start a new business or invest in an existing U.S. company and use the investment to restructure and create more jobs. There are specific and detailed rules for both options including how old the company is that is bought, how it is restructured, and how much growth is made with your investment.

There are several requirements an applicant must show during the application process:
1) The investment money must come solely from the applicant and not from a group of people. Loans and tangible property can be used to calculate the investment total.
2) The applicant’s investment must ultimately create at least 10 full-time employees. This requirement needs to be met within two years of the granting of the visa. Please note that the accompanying spouse and children cannot be counted as these 10 full-time employees.
3) The applicant must be actively working at the company. An individual wanting to pay a large sum of money and then not work will not be granted the EB-5 visa.