In 1990 Congress created an additional investor visa category for obtaining permanent resident status in the United States to individuals in this category. Also known as the “Million Dollar Green Card,” the EB-5 visa classification is for investors and employment-creation. The EB-5 affords investors who invest between $500,000 and $1 million the opportunity to obtain a Green Card within approximately 18 months. There are essentially two ways to be eligible for the EB-5 visa:
(1) Entrepreneurial Program ($1,000,000 Investment)
You can be eligible for the EB-5 under the entrepreneurial program if you invest at least $1 million in a commercial enterprise, and your investment creates at least 10 full-time jobs in the U.S. You may invest in a commercial enterprise by either starting a new business or acquiring an existing business in the U.S. Under this program you must also be actively involved in your business.
(2) Regional Center Program ($500,000 Investment)
Another option is to invest in a Regional Center. A Regional Center is an investment opportunity that has essentially been pre-approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Currently, there are over 760 designated Regional Centers in the U.S. Investment in a Regional Center requires a minimum investment of $500,000. As with the entrepreneurial program, there is a job creation requirement, but that requirement may be filled by both indirect and direct job creation. Additionally, the Regional Center program allows investors to take a more passive investment approach.
EB-5 investors are given what is called Conditional Residency. In the EB-5 context, conditional residence means that the investor will receive a conditional green card that is good for only two years. Then, just before the two years expires, the investor must file a new application showing that he has substantially met the capital investment and job creation requirements of the EB-5 category.
The manner in which an EB-5 investment is structured is very important for not only the immigration aspect, but also for the investment aspect. Because of the detailed and complex nature of the EB-5 visa application, it is not recommended that you pursue the EB-5 without the close assistance of an experienced team of professionals.