What Is an EB-5: Immigrant Investor Green Card?

What Is an EB-5: Immigrant Investor Green Card?

The EB-5 program is an opportunity to create jobs and stimulate the U.S. economy. To qualify, applicants must invest in new or at-risk commercial enterprises and create full-time positions for 10 qualifying employees. The U.S. economy benefits most when a place is at risk and the new investor can provide a working establishment with full time jobs.

To be eligible for an EB-5 investor visa, applicants must meet three main requirements:

  1. Investment of capital
  2. Investing in a new commercial enterprise
  3. Create jobs for at least 10 qualifying employees

Qualifications can be met as a stand-alone program or through a Regional Center Program.

EB-5 Requirements: Investment of Capital

There are many different ways applicants can make a contribution of capital including:

  • Cash
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Tangible property
  • Cash equivalents
  • Indebtedness secured by assets owned by the immigrant investor

Capital assets must be denoted at fair market value according to the U.S. dollar system. An investor must prove the capital they provide is their own and has been obtained lawfully by providing:

  • Foreign business registration records
  • Personal Tax returns
  • Other sources of capital
  • Certified copies of pending governmental or private civil or criminal actions

In order for an investment to be approved, there cannot be a guarantee of return — the immigrant investor must place their capital at risk. Repayment is not guaranteed either, which is also known as impermissible debt.

EB-5 investments must be made with the investor’s own funds. If the applicant is the sole proprietor in a non-regional center, funds in their personal bank account do not count as capital for the new enterprise — funds must be in a business bank account.

EB-5 Financing

As of November 21, 2019, a few changes have been made that have modernized the EB-5 program, including increasing investment amounts due to inflation.

If the petition filing date is before 11/21/2019

  • Minimum investment amount: $1,000,000
  • Targeted Employment Area Investment Amount: $500,000
  • High-employment Area Investor Amount: $1,000,000

If your petition filing date is after 11/21/2019

  • Minimum investment amount: $1,800,000
  • Targeted Employment Area Investment Amount: $900,000
  • High-employment Area Investor Amount: $1,800,000

EB-5 Requirements: Investment in A New Commercial Enterprise

A new commercial enterprise is any for-profit activity formed with the intent of conducting and continuing lawful business. You may be the sole proprietor, work in a partnership or joint venture, have a corporation, or invest in other private or public qualifying entities.

The new enterprise must be purchased after November 29, 1990. If it was purchased on or before that date, the business may qualify as a new business if it was a) reorganized into a new enterprise or b) expanded through your EB-5 investment with a 40% increase in net worth or number of employees. If you invest in a troubled business, the company must have been around for at least two years and collected a net loss 12-24 months before your priority date.

What Is A TEA?

TEAs were implemented into the investor visa program to encourage investing in places with the greatest need. TEAs can be rural areas or areas that experience high unemployment.

A rural area is:

  • outside of standard metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), which is a city and the surrounding areas
  • within the outer boundary of a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more

A high unemployment area:

  • has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate

What Is an Immigrant Investor Regional Center?

An EB-5 regional center can be a public or private economic unit that promotes economic growth. These centers allow EB-5 investors to establish indirect job creation, focusing attention on job creation rather than the enterprise itself. The regional center must conduct business within a TEA to qualify for lower investment amounts.

You Must Be Involved with Your Company

Your investment means you must be a participant in the new enterprise to qualify for an EB-5 visa. You must be managing your new commercial enterprise.

EB-5 Requirements: Job Creation

Your new commercial enterprise needs to create 10 full-time jobs for qualified employees. Full-time employment has a minimum of 35 hours per week.

If the investment is through a troubled business, you must maintain the number of pre-investment employees. Through a regional center, job creation includes direct and indirect jobs. A job-sharing agreement (in the same position with the same tasks) counts as a full-time position if the hour requirement is met.

EB-5 Visa Process: How to Get An EB-5 Green Card

To petition for the investment green card, you must complete the following steps:

  1. File Form I-526, which is the form filled to petition specifically as an immigrant investor. The cost is $3,675 for this form and needs to be sent to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility. You will receive your priority date and a receipt confirming the USCIS received your petition.
  2. If your Form I-526 is approved:
    • File for a Form DS-260 if you are abroad and are seeking admission into the U.S.
    • File for Form I-485 is you are already in the U.S. and wish to register for permanent residency or adjust immigrant status. The price varies depending on your status. If you are approved as an EB-5 investor, you and your immediate family will be granted conditional permanent residency for two years.
  1. Within the 90-day-period before the two-year mark of your EB-5 visa, you will file Form I-829. The for this visa is $3,750, along with a biometric service fee of $85. This petition calls for the “conditional” part of your permanent residency to be removed. If approved, you will have unrestricted lawful U.S. residency.

EB-5 Visa Process: Supporting Evidence

All EB-5 visa requirements must be submitted with your Form I-526:

  1. Business must be a new commercial enterprise
  2. Proof you are or will be managing your business investment
  3. Proof of investment of capital
  4. Evidence of job creation
  5. 2-year minimum business preservation

If you qualify for a TEA, submit evidence in Form I-526. You may also invest in a specified Immigrant Investor Regional Center by using Form I-924.

The following must be submitted along with your I-829 Petition:

  1. Evidence of organization sustainability
  2. Evidence you created- or will create- 10 full-time positions via payroll and employee’s Form I-9s

Submitting a comprehensive business plan may also be to your benefit. The more detail explaining your business, the more likely you are to be considered as having a comprehensive and credible business for an investor visa in the USA.

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

We understand that the process of petitioning for an EB-5 visa is a task with many specifications and requirements. The lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates have over 30 combined years of experience in immigration law. If you have any questions about the EB-5 visa or any immigration process, contact us at (312) 444-1940.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!