The EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (TEA) or rural area), creating at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. Currently, the majority of investments that are being marketed to foreign investors are in locations that qualify for the $500,000 investment.
If the foreign investor’s petition is approved and the investor goes through the consulate interview or, if already in the United States, I-485 adjustment of status, the investor will be granted conditional permanent residence which is valid for two years. This conditional greencard will give the holder all the benefits of a permanent greencard holder and allows the investor to enter and live in the United States. The total time from choosing an investment and wiring the investment funds to entering the United States, as of January 2012, takes approximately one year. Two years after obtaining the conditional greencard, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and that 10 jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable time period.
In 1992, Congress created a temporary pilot program called the Regional Center Pilot Program designed to stimulate investment through EB-5 visas. Under this pilot program, foreign nationals may invest in a Regional Center which is a public or private entity approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that will create the requisite jobs. An EB-5 investment made through a Regional Center provides foreign nationals the added benefit of allowing them to count jobs created both directly and indirectly for purposes of meeting the 10 job creation requirement. In addition, investing in a Regional Center project allows the investor to live anywhere in the United States regardless of where the investment was made. Currently, according to the USCIS, more than 95% of EB-5 investments are made through Regional Center projects (as opposed to the investor directly setting up a business and creating jobs).
EB-5 visas have been very popular in recent years. By the end of the 2011 fiscal year (September 30, 2011), more than 3,800 EB-5 applications had been filed, compared to fewer than 800 applications in 2007.