IMMIGRANT INVESTORS & THE EB-5 VISA: HOW THE IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PROGRAM WORKS
This program allows qualified persons to seek permanent resident status based on an investment in a U.S. company. The current amount of investment is either $500,000 or $1 million depending on the location in the United States. The investment must be in a business that will create jobs for 10 U.S. workers. A total of 10,000 EB-5 green cards are available each year.
To qualify under the program, a potential investor may invest in their personally-managed commercial enterprise, or in a pooled investment which funds a commercial enterprise controlled and managed by other parties. The investor may also choose to invest through a “Regional Center.” Regional Centers are generally private companies in specific targeted geographic areas which the USCIS has determined can make investments that are likely to create the necessary 10 jobs per investor, whether directly or indirectly, in the region. In many regional centers the minimum capital contribution is $900,000, plus administrative or syndication fees that may range between $35,000 to $60,000. Many regional centers involve limited partnership investments and provide the investor with the rights of a limited partner, a structure which is permitted by USCIS in order to grant the investor a somewhat active role in the company but which is not completely passive.
Advantages & Considerations
One potential advantage investing through a Regional Center (in contrast with a standalone business) is that some investment projects can be pre-approved by the USCIS with respect to the investment financing structure of the project, and with respect to the job creation methods. Regional Center projects have the distinct benefit of being able to count indirect and induced jobs as forecasted by a reasonable economic methodology. As well, regional centers and their projects are required to submit annual reports of their financial status and job creation history to the USCIS each calendar year. Today, there are hundreds of EB-5 Regional Centers (and more emerging every day) around the United States. Selecting the right one is very important and requires an understanding of how each EB-5 Regional Center functions.