The EB-5 immigrant investor program was created by Congress to encourage foreigners to invest money in the United States in order to create jobs for United States workers. The minimum investment for the foreigner is one million dollars of at risk capitol to create a minimum of 10 jobs for United States workers. In some instances – in rural areas, or areas with high unemployment – the amount of the investment only needs to be $500,000. The investment must: meet the minimum dollar amount in terms of the investment; the investment funds must be at risk; the investment must benefit the United States economy by providing goods and service to United States markers; it must create a minimum of 10 full time jobs for United States citizens, green card holders, or individuals authorized to work in the United States (not including the investor and his or her family); and the investor must be involved in the day to day management of the buisiness or directly manage it through a formulating business policy (for example, serving as a board member, etc.).
The Regional Center Pilot Program was created to allow private entities and government entities within the United States to establish Regional Centers that provide projects for a foreigner to invest in, which are intended to create at least 10 United States worker jobs for the investment amount, in order to allow the foreigner to qualify for permanent residence in the United States. A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. The aforementioned economic unit must receive regional center designation from the USCIS to operate as such.
It is highly recommended that if you wish to pursue permanent residence in the United States through the EB-5 immigrant investor program, that you hire an experienced immigration attorney, such as the attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC, to represent you. The EB-5 process is extensive, complicated, and better left to an immigration law expert.
The basic steps in the process for the foreign investor is as follows:
First – the foreign investor evaluates the EB-5 documents from the Regional Center in order to fully understand the risks and terms of the investment program. The foreign investor is also given information as to the expected length of time for the investment (an exit strategy), and the anticipated return on the investment (with the understanding that the investment is at risk and subject to loss). I suggest that you read our blog – EB-5 Investor Green Cards – Important Questions for the Regional Center at www.hilfandhilf.com
Second – the investor applies to the program by submitting the required investment amount into the program’s escrow account. The investor must also complete the required documents and contracts with the selected EB-5 program.
Third – the immigration attorney on behalf of the investor prepares Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepeneur) and submits it to the USCIS on behalf of the investor. The immigration attorney must attach extensive documentation to the petition or else it will be denied. As part of the application process, the source of the funds used in the investment from the foreign investor must be shown to derive from a legitimate source.
Fourth – once the petition is approved, the case is forwarded to the United States embassy in the foreign investor’s home country for a visa interview if the investor and his or her family reside overseas.
Fifth – if approved after the visa interview, the investor and his family are allowed to enter the United States, and receive conditional 2 year green cards. Investors and family members that are already in the United States have their immigration lawyer apply for adjustment of status. Once the I-526 petition is approved, the funds held in escrow are released into the EB-5 program. The foreign investor and his or her family are free to live and work anywhere in the United States – they do not have to live in the State where the investment exists. The foreign investor and family must live in the United States at least for 6 months of a year to maintain their status.
If the petition is denied, the foreign investor is refunded the investment amount from the escrow amount.
Sixth – Prior to the expiration of the 2 year period, the immigration attorney files Form I-829 (Petition to Remove Conditional Status) with the USCIS on behalf of the foreign investor and his or her family. Upon approval of the petition, the foreign investor and his or her family receive a 10 year green card.
Seventh – after 5 years of maintaining green card status, the foreign investor and his or her family may apply for United States citizenship.
The EB-5 investment program offers an excellent opportunity for a foreign investor to obtain permanent United States residence for themselves and their family in a short period of time (if there are not complications with the case).