Business, EB-5

EB-5 Series: Immigrant investor program creates jobs

Generations of immigrants built this country and have made it what it is today: a melting pot. Many have arrived embracing America’s culture of entrepreneurship and the opportunities of a capitalist system.

For more than two decades a government immigration visa program has offered to tap into this pioneering spirit by attempting to attract investors and entrepreneurs from all around the world.

In exchange for investing in a new or existing business that benefits the economy infusing it with new capital and jobs in the U.S., an applicant of this program receives a permanent, legal U.S. residency status for him or herself and their immediate family members.  Their green card is offered within two years as long as the enterprise is deemed functional and creates jobs. They can apply for U.S. citizenship with five years.

The employment based category five visa program, also known as EB-5, has stimulated economic growth and created jobs for more than 20 years. Each year 10,000 visas are set aside. The visas have the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs, but throughout the life of the program not all of the visas set aside each year have been issued. The program has been underutilized.

Participation in the EB-5 visa program is based on the ability to make capital investments and to show that it was done so legally. The applicants choose one of two pathways to receive the Green Card. They can choose the Basic Program or the Regional Center Pilot program.  These Regional Centers are economic entities created by either public or private groups to support economic growth in a specific area within the U.S. The Centers act as a liaison between the investor and the EB-5 eligible project. Both programs provide the choice of investing $1,000,000 or $500,000 for a project in a targeted employment area, or TEA. These TEA areas are rural or locations where the unemployment rate exceeds 150 percent. The Basic Program requires the creation of 10 direct jobs. The Regional Center Pilot program requires the same amount of jobs; however they are created either direct or indirectly.

The application process is complex and strict and the business projects are large.   The government has attempted to streamline this process by coming up with ways to enhance the intake and review process. Even business professionals and groups that work with the investors are working to draw more attention to the program with educational programs that outline ways to alleviate issues and to reduce hurdles.

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