Investment Immigration (EB-5)
What is Investment Immigration?
Investment Immigration is an immigration visa in INA 203(b)(5). It offers application of conditional U.S. permanent residence (green card) through an investment program to produce jobs in the United States.
What are the requirements of Investment Immigration?
The investment has to meet all three requirements below in order to for the investor to apply for Green Card:
1. The investor establishes a new commercial enterprise by:
• Creating an original business, or
• Purchasing an existing business and simultaneously or subsequently restructuring or reorganizing the business such that a new commercial enterprise results; or
• Expanding an existing business by increasing 40 percent of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth, or retaining all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20 per cent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months (a “troubled business” defined by the USCIS); and
2. The investor has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, in a new commercial enterprise:
• At least $1,000,000, or
• At least $500,000 where the investment is being made in a ‘targeted employment area,’ which is an area that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate or a rural area as designated by OMB; and
3. The commercial enterprise must benefit the U.S. economy by:
• Creating at least ten full-time employment; or
• When the capital investment is being made in a troubled business, which is a business that has been in existence for at least two years and that has lost 20 per cent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months, the invest only needs to maintain the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years.
The Sources of Investment Fund:
The Investment Immigration regulations require the investor to prove that the invested capital was “obtained through lawful means.” Specifically, it requires either foreign business registration records; corporate, partnership and personal tax returns filed within 5 years; evidence identifying any other source of capital; or documentation of court judgments or pending court cases, etc. to prove that the investment fund come from legal resources. In practice USCIS requests all of the listed categories of documents and, and in many cases, a lot of additional documentation.
Investment Regional Centers (Pilot Program)
To encourage more foreign investment in the Investment Immigration, Congress created an EB-5 pilot program in 1993. The program permits U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to designate qualified investments as Regional Centers. A Regional Center is a private corporation or enterprise or a regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region One major advantage of the Regional Center Program is that it does not require the investor’s investment to directly employ 10 U.S. workers. It is enough if 10 or more jobs will be created directly or indirectly as a result of the investment. The Regional Center Investment Program helps investors by directing and professionally managing their investment in the designated business and geographic focus of their Regional Center.
Once USCIS has approved a Regional Center application, an investor seeking Investment Immigration through the Regional Center Investment Program will make the qualifying investment (i.e., $1 million or $500,000) within an approved Regional Center. The investor does not need to prove creation of 10 jobs because this requirement is automatically met by investing in an approved Regional Center. The Regional Center Investment Program allocates 3,000 green cards each year for people who invest in designated Regional Centers. The Program is not a set law so it has to be extended by the Congress every time when it expires. It has been renewed several times so far, but it is subject Congress’ decision on its future existence.
How to apply for permanent resident through Investment Immigration?
After making the necessary investment, the investor should use form I-526 to file for green card petition.
Removal of Condition
Upon approval of I-526, the investor will first obtain a conditional green card. Ninety (90) days before the end of two years of being a conditional permanent resident, the investor must file a form I-829, to remove the conditional status by demonstrating that the required jobs have been created by your investment. When the I-829 is approved, the investor obtains regular permanent resident status.