General Information on EB-5 Program

The U.S. Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5) was founded in 1990 to encourage the investment of foreign capital into the American economy. This program makes it possible for an investor and his/her family to obtain permanent residence (Green Card) in the United States by either investing in the creation of a business or in the development of an existing enterprise in the United States. If the investment is made in an existing enterprise, it is required that the existing enterprise was founded no earlier than November 29, 1990.

Each year, 10,000 EB-5 visas are available through the program, 5,000 of which are reserved for investors who participate in the Regional Center projects approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Eligibility Requirements for an EB-5 Visa

  • An investor must have sufficient capital to do one of the following:
    • create an original business;
    • purchase an existing business and simultaneously or subsequently restructure or reorganize the business such that a new commercial enterprise results;
    • expand an existing business by 140 percent of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth;
    • or retain all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months;
  • Invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise ($500,000 for Regional Center projects);
  • Create full-time employment for no fewer than 10 qualified individuals;
  • Maintain the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years.

Note: Members of the investor?s family may work for the new enterprise, but they cannot be considered as one of the 10 qualified individuals required for eligibility for the EB-5. Full-time employment requires a minimum of 35 work-hours per week.

In addition, we encourage our clients to consider the possibility of investing through one of the structured Regional Center projects. However, we will be happy to help our clients with any project that may interest them.

Investment through the structured Regional Center projects allows investors to obtain an EB-5 visa without having to directly participate in the creation and management of a new commercial enterprise. This so-called "passive investment" can be a much cheaper and convenient alternative.

Process Overview of the EB-5 Visa

  • A qualified investor, spouse, and minor children (under 21) will be granted conditional U.S. Lawful Permanent Residency (Green Card);
  • After two years, the immigrant investor applies to have the conditional status removed;
  • An immigrant investor is not required to manage the investment on a daily basis.

Requirements for the EB-5 Visa Programs

The investor must be able to do the following:

  • Present a large amount of investment capital;
  • Present a detailed business plan for the development of a company;
  • Prove that the investment comes from a lawful source of funds;
  • Create the requisite number of jobs;
  • Demonstrate active participation in the management of the enterprise;
  • If the investment is not profitable, the investor cannot reduce the number of employees to less than the required amount;
  • Satisfy general eligibility requirements for a visa (e.g., medical).

After two years, the USCIS will conduct an investigation to see if the investor has fulfilled all his obligations. In the event that the investor failed to fulfill the conditions of the program, the investor and any family members may be refused permanent residence.

Benefits of Investing in the Regional Center Projects

  • Projects are already USCIS-approved and therefore the investor does not have to worry about presenting a business plan and meeting certain requirements;
  • The minimal required investment is $500,000, as opposed to $1 million for independent projects;
  • The investor can play a passive role in his investment and does not have to directly participate in the daily management of the enterprise;
  • Projects possess the potential for development and long-term profit and returns on investment;
  • The capital for the investment is usually maintained in an escrow account during the visa application process. In the event that the investor is denied an immigration visa, the full amount of his/her investment is returned minus administrative expenses.

How to Obtain an EB-5 Visa

In order to seek status as an immigrant investor, you must file CIS Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Form I-526 must be submitted with supporting documentation which clearly demonstrates that the individual?s investment meets all USCIS requirements. The petition should be filed with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the area in which the new commercial enterprise will be primarily doing business. Upon approval of the petition, if the investor is in the United States, he/she may apply for Adjustment of Status to Conditional Resident status. If the investor is abroad, he/she must wait for notification from the National Visa Center to prepare for the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the investor?s country of residence.

How Our Partnership Law Offices Can Help

The qualified and experienced lawyers we partner with can provide full legal support to clients interested in obtaining an EB-5 visa. With more than 20 years of experience with the EB-5 program, they can help our clients meet all the legal requirements of the program. Services include:

  • Providing comparative information and analysis on various Regional Center projects;
  • Assessing preliminarily whether an investor will qualify under the EB-5 program;
  • Counseling the client to ensure that he/she understands all aspects of the EB-5 program;
  • Interacting with the client to best prepare the case: gathering needed documentation, completing all application forms, translating all required documentation into English;
  • Representing the client at both the USCIS and consulate stages of the process to ensure the most prompt and beneficial review of the application;
  • Representing the client at the condition removal stage of the process.