Investor Visa

Investor Visa

USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence) if they:

  1. Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  2. Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program, which sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

The United States EB-5 visaemployment-based fifth preference category[1] or EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, created in 1990 by the Immigration Act of 1990, provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents—informally known as “green card” holders—by investing substantial capital to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.[2] The current investment amount is controversial as USCIS has not updated their website[3] nor issued guidance in light of a federal judge, in June 2021, striking down the 2019 EB-5 “modernization” regulation. The judge found the 2019 regulation which increased the investment threshold from $500,000 to $900,000 (in rural/ high employment areas) invalid as it was enacted by government officials not properly appointed to their post in violation of the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA). [4][5]

A Former Acting Director of USCIS believes that “direct EB-5 investors can invest at $500,000 until new legislation or regulations change the amount”.[6]

Most immigrant investors who use the EB-5 program invest in a targeted employment area (TEA)[7]: 8 —a rural area or area with high unemployment in order to invest less capital.[8]

The EB-5 program is intended to encourage both “foreign investments and economic growth.”[9] The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is one of five employment-based (EB) preference programs in the United States.[10]: 4 

Applicants traditionally had the choice of investing directly or through a “larger investor pool via regional centers (RC)”,[10]: 2  which are federally approved third-party intermediaries that “connect foreign investors with developers in need of funding, and take a commission.”[11][12][13][10] Regional centers are usually private, for-profit businesses that are approved by the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.[13][14] Congress did not reauthorize the regional center program on June 30, 2021; therefore, investors must invest in a direct investment (not regional centers) and directly employ 10 or more U.S. workers. [15]

By May 1, 2017, there were 883 USCIS-approved regional centers[16] and by 2014 the “vast majority” of EB-5 visas were “granted through regional center[s].”[7]: 4  By 2015, the EB-5 program had become an “important source of capital for developers”[10] and for the regional centers.[13] If an EB-5 investment is made in a regional center, the jobs may be created indirectly through economic activity, as opposed to a direct investment.[citation needed]

As of 23 April 2020, 78,278 investors have applied for the EB5 program.[17] Most investors—about 80 percent—come from four countries: ChinaSouth KoreaTaiwan and the United Kingdom. Large numbers of applicants have also have come from VietnamIndiaBrazilMexico and Nigeria.[17] In 2014, 85% of the 10,692 EB-5 visas issued were for Chinese nationals according to a study by Savills Studley, a “real estate services firm.”[18][19] On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed a law extending the Regional Center Program through September 30, 2020