How To Get U.S. Residency Through Investment

For a number of years, obtaining a “green card” (that is, becoming a lawful permanent resident) through investment in the United States has required an investment of one million dollars in a U.S. business. The minimum investment amount can be reduced to $500,000 if the business is set in a rural location or in an area with high unemployment, a “Targeted Employment Area” or “TEA” where unemployment is at 150 percent or more of the national average. To acquire a TEA designation, a prospective EB-5 investor must invest in a project located in a rural area or a high unemployment area.

In September, President Trump signed into law H.R. 601, a continuing resolution which extends the EB-5 Regional Center Program through at least December. Some changes to the EB-5 Program may be expected at that time, and the $500,000 minimum investment amount may increase to $800,000.

Nevertheless, by providing green cards to qualified international investors, the EB-5 Investor Visa Program has created thousands of new jobs and scores of new businesses in every part of the U.S. Changes to the EB-5 Regional Center Program are likely, but the passage of H.R. 601 ensures that no changes will be made prior to December of this year.

At the present time, as many as 10,000 EB-5 visas are offered each year to foreign investors who invest in projects that create a minimum of ten full-time positions for workers in the U.S. Developers in the U.S. are coming to depend more often on the investment funds that the EB-5 program provides to finance projects that include luxury hotels, new stadiums, and posh vacation resorts.

The program has provided over $6.5 billion to development projects throughout the U.S. over the last decade, and it has created more than 130,000 jobs. If you are an investor looking for a good investment in the U.S., the EB-5 Investor Visa Program might be right for you.

WHO MAY APPLY FOR AN EB-5 VISA?

Every qualified investor may apply for an EB-5 visa – it doesn’t matter what nation you are from. Through the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, international investors may reside in the United States along with immediate family members. As the terms of the EB-5 program are met over a period of months, the investors and their family members become eligible for lawful permanent residence.

Obtaining an EB-5 visa and finding the right investment opportunity is time-consuming and complicated, but scores of investors have discovered that the benefits of the EB-5 Program are well worth their patience and efforts.

Investors who have any concerns or questions about the EB-5 program should consult an experienced immigration attorney here in the United States. In fact, from anywhere in the world, you can arrange by telephone or by email to speak with an experienced Columbus immigration attorney, learn more regarding the EB-5 and your other visa options, and start the complicated visa application process.

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program offers the American Dream to those who qualify. It provides business owners and developers with an additional option for obtaining the resources they need to start up new ventures and to return prosperity to struggling businesses and communities. The usual return on an EB-5 investment is about eight percent, but the truth is that many investors are more concerned with acquiring green cards and good educations for their sons and daughters.

HOW DOES A REGION BECOME A TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA?

Putting an EB-5 investment in a Targeted Employment Area or TEA lowers the minimum investment requirement from $1 million to $500,000. An EB-5 investment has to be located in a rural region or in an area with a high unemployment rate in order to receive the TEA designation. To qualify as a Targeted Employment Area, the location must have an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the U.S. national average.

To obtain a TEA designation, an EB-5 visa applicant must produce evidence that the project is located in a rural or a high unemployment area. Several types of evidence are acceptable, and a Columbus immigration lawyer can help investors compile that evidence and provide additional insights and advice. Nineteen states provide a list of the TEAs they have designated, but certifications are still issued to investors on an individual basis.

EB-5 is the sole immigration category allowing international investors entrance into the U.S. as lawful permanent residents. The EB-5 Program grew slowly after its launch in 1990, but in more recent years, the program has grown to be overwhelmingly popular. Since 2008, the visas issued through the EB-5 Program have more than quadrupled. In a single year – 2014 – EB-5 investments totaled over $2.6 billion and created over 16,000 jobs.

WHAT DO EB-5 “REGIONAL CENTERS” DO?

To attract investors, EB-5 “Regional Centers” are in rural and high-unemployment areas. Regional centers are designated by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), but they are operated privately and promote local economies through rising sales, higher regional productivity, the creation of jobs, and increased investment. Investors in regional centers do not have to prove that they themselves created the new jobs; they only have to prove that the regional center itself created ten or more new jobs, directly or indirectly, for U.S. workers.

With a December deadline approaching, investors may choose to take action immediately. The EB-5 Regional Center Program will probably be changed. The minimum investment figure – $500,000 – will probably rise, the definition of a “TEA” will likely be amended, and additional requirements for prospective investors will perhaps be required. This, investors may want to reach out to an immigration lawyer now and begin the EB-5 visa application process before Congress takes action in December.

As you read this, large development projects across the U.S. are relying on EB-5 funds. Most reform proposals would raise the minimum investment amount while reducing opportunities fraud and for misappropriation of EB-5 monies. Investors who want to take advantage of the EB-5 program should work from the start with a U.S. immigration attorney who regularly helps and represents international investors.

The EB-5 visa is a superlative path to permanent residence – and eventual citizenship – in the U.S. Investors can learn more or begin the application process by consulting an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. The time to do that is now.