The EB5 investor visa was designed to promote investment of foreign funds into U.S. businesses. It offers two primary benefits – a path to residency and eventual citizenship for the individual investor, and a financial boost to the American economy. The program has existed since the 1990s and regularly injects the U.S. economy with a cash investment that not only provides revenue for the government but creates jobs for U.S. workers throughout the country.
Most investors who try to get an investor’s visa usually go at it alone, that is, they raise the capital required of the program on their own and make the investment decision about where to invest the funds on their own. The requirements to qualify for an EB-5 investment visa are that the investor must have invested or have made a substantial step forward in the investment of the minimum required amounts, $500,000 in industries designated by the government, or at least $1,000,000 in any other industry.
The business must be a legitimate business and the funds which are invested, whether the funds are gifted from friends and family or not, must be provably legitimate. This means that a paper trail will need to exist to show the U.S. government that the funds earned were earned legally. Further, the funds must create 10 jobs for American workers if invested in a new business, or, if invested in an existing business, must increase the business’ net worth or workforce by 40%
Investing as a Group
If investors decide to pull their investment funds and invest in a legitimate U.S. business together, each individual member must meet the standards for an EB-5 visa, which means that each individual must make a qualifying investment with legally earned funds. The benefit to investing as part of a group is that a group can raise a substantial amount of cash to pour into a single business, but those who invest alone enjoy the freedom of absolute investment control and don’t have to worry about being out voted in business decisions.
Another thing that foreign citizens who are interested in gaining an EB-5 visa can do is to invest in a “Regional Center.” Regional Centers are privately operated (but many local and state governments have decided to form their own) and, essentially, direct funds from investors on the investor’s behalf. This is probably the best option for investors who want to take a hands off approach to earning the EB5 visa and are more concerned with earning the visa than with helping to direct the growth of a business.
What prospective EB5 investors need to keep in mind is that the best way to proceed with any sort of visa application process is with a qualified immigration visa attorney by their sides. An experienced immigration attorney can help the investor meet the minimum requirements for the EB5 program and ensure that the visa application is filled out properly. Once submitted, the EB-5 investor visa attorney can even track the application and keep the investor advised of changes to its status.