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EB-5 Investor Visa - Employment Immigration

Obtaining A Green Card Through the EB-5 Investor Visa

EB-5 Investor Visa

Whether you are establishing your own U.S. company or investing in a Regional Center, Pedersen Law will take care of the entire Immigration process from start to finish, including providing legal advice and guidance regarding qualifying Business and Regional Center investments, obtaining your Green Card and steps to final Permanent Residency …


The EB-5 Investor Visa is one of the quickest, most convenient ways to obtain a Green Card in the U.S. through investment. Foreign Investors and their families can receive Conditional Green Cards in as little as 4-6 months, with Permanent Residency after two years.

Background of the Investment Visa

In order to encourage foreign investment in the United States, create jobs for American workers and help the U.S. economy, Congress created the “EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa” category as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. The EB-5 Visa was designed to attract foreign investors desiring to obtain a Green Card (U.S. Residency) in the U.S., in exchange for investing a substantial amount of capital in a business enterprise. Under the regulations, there are 10,000 visas available each year for such investors, with 5,000 reserved for investors who invest in one of the many “EB-5 pilot programs” designated for areas in the U.S. which have high levels of unemployment.

Investment Overview

EB-5 Investor Visa

There are two basic categories of investment under the regulations:

1) Investment of $1 Million U.S. Dollars or more in establishing a new business or in an existing business over which the Investor has full direction and control AND the business must create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers for two (2) full years OR

2) Investment of $500,000 U.S. Dollars:

a) In a “Designated Regional Center” which is controlled by a Partnership or other legal entity comprised of a number of other Investors, which creates full-time employment for at least 10 US workers for two (2) full years; OR

b) In a business enterprise located in a "targeted employment area", which includes rural areas, defined as any area other than one within a metropolitan statistical area or within the boundary of a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more; and areas having an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average. The business must create full-time employment for at least 10 US workers for two (2) full years Essentially, Immigration regulations allow foreign Investors to invest (either $1 Million or $500,000 - depending upon where the business is located), in their own business and manage its operations OR to invest $500,000 in a “Designated Regional Center” and have a “passive” investment which is managed by a Partnership or other entity. Regardless of which type of investment you choose, the final determination must always be an investment that makes good business sense and returns on investment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing In Your Own Business

The advantage of investing in your own business and managing it - is that you are in total control of your investment and are able to exercise discretion over all business operations. The success of your business in large part depends upon many factors including your business/managerial skills, the economy and the type of products or services your company provides. In good economic times you could enjoy a good return on your investment in the form of monthly and yearly profits. The disadvantage, however, is that in the bad times, your business could experience tough economic challenges which can mean employee layoffs and in some cases, business closure.

EB-5 Investor Visa

For EB-5 Investors, this can be very serious, since Immigration regulations require that an Investor’s business enterprise employ 10 fulltime workers for at least two years. Therefore, layoffs of employees can be a disaster for an Investor. The USCIS is very strict about the job creation and employment component of the investment, since the EB-5 program itself was created essentially to enhance the American economy by allowing foreign investors to create businesses which will employ U.S. workers. As a result, any consideration of investing in the U.S. through your own business should include a very well calculated plan to ensure that no fewer than the minimum of ten employees are guaranteed to be employed at all times until your Green Card is made permanent after the conditional two-year period.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing In A Designated Regional Center

The obvious advantage of investing in one of the Designated Regional Centers recognized by the USCIS is that the investment capital required is only $500,000 (in addition to program administration and immigration fees costs which generally result in a $560,000 total investment). Regional Centers are investment enterprises in which investors “pool” their investment capital together for the purpose of funding projects which promote economic growth in high-unemployment areas of the U.S.. Another advantage of investment in a Regional Center is that the center indirectly creates jobs for ten U.S. workers for the required two year period, relieving individual investors of this responsibility.

Finally, investment in a Regional Center does not require the investor to be actively involved in the operations of the business, leaving the Investor free to travel, attend to other business, enjoy leisure activities or retire. The disadvantage is that not all Regional Centers have established track records of investment returns and USCIS approvals. This makes it all the more important to choose from among the most established centers, a few of which have near 100% USCIS approval rates for qualifying Investors.

Conditional Green Card Upon Application Approval

Under new regulations, the EB-5 Investor application can be approved in as little as 15 days. Once approved, both the foreign Investor and his or her family apply for U.S. Residency and upon approval, receive conditional residence status for two years, with a secondary petition required to be filed for Permanent Residency. This is done several months prior to the conditional residency expiration by filing an application which demonstrates to the USCIS that all the requirements have been met, including that the capital investment has been continuously maintained and that 10 fulltime workers have been employed during the conditional residence period. This is very beneficial for investors who have children within several years of reaching age 21, since once a child has turned 21, he or she is no longer eligible to immigrate as a dependant of the parent in employment or investment based immigration. Investors and their family can apply for U.S. Citizenship after being Residents for four years and nine months.

Important Considerations Involved In Investing In Your Own Business

Qualifying Investment "capital"

Immigration regulations define capital as cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the foreign Investor. Loans will qualify as capital as long as the Investor is primarily and personally liable for the indebtedness. Gifts from friends or family also qualify as capital. The full amount of the investment must be made before applying for the EB-5 Visa.

Job Creation

The investment enterprise must benefit the U.S. economy by creating full-time employment for not less than ten (10) U.S. workers, excluding the investor and his family members, and must continue to do so for the entire two year period of the investor's conditional residency.

The Investment Enterprise

In order to qualify as an investment, the business must be a commercial enterprise formed for the conduct of ongoing business, including sole proprietorship, partnership, holding company1 joint-venture, corporation, business trust, or other entity which is publicly or privately owned. If it is a new enterprise, it must have an established after the effective date of the Act on November 29, 1990. A new enterprise includes: 1) opening a new business; 2) buying and reorganizing an existing company; 3) investing $ I million in an existing business without reorganizing or reincorporating if the capital investment results in a "substantial" change in the existing business of at least 40% increase in net worth, or employees; or 4) taking over a troubled business which has existed for two years and incurred a net worth loss of at least 20%, if the acquisition will save jobs.

Management Of The Enterprise

The investor must be engaged in the management of the enterprise either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation and cannot maintain a purely passive role. Further, more than one investor may obtain an immigrant visa based on investment in the same enterprise, as long as each investor remits the minimum capital requirements. i.e., $ 1 million, or $ 500,000 for "target" areas.

Important Considerations Involved In Investing In A Regional Center

Qualifying Investment "capital"

Immigration regulations allow investment capital to be the Investor’s own savings, cash, loan on assets owned by the foreign Investor as long as the Investor is primarily and personally liable for the indebtedness and gifts from friends or family. The full amount of the investment must be made before applying for the EB-5 Visa.

Job Creation

The Regional Center project creates full-time employment for not less than ten (10) U.S. workers during the entire two year period of the investor's conditional residency. Under the regulations, Regional Centers qualify by creating 10 or more jobs indirectly as a result of the investment.

The Investment Enterprise

In order to qualify for the EB-5, Investors must place the total investment funds “at risk”. For investments in reputable Regional Centers, this means that the investment capital is generally held in an escrow account pending USCIS processing and may only be released to the project upon approval of EB-5 Investor immigration petition.

Management Of The Enterprise

Day to day management of the Regional Center investment enterprise is generally governed by the General Partner of a limited partnership in which limited partners receive their share of the income from the investment.

Investment Returns & “Exit Strategy”

Many good investments generate regular returns on investments in monthly, quarterly and yearly distributions of profits, depending upon the investment and structure of the project. However, while the more established Regional Centers offer Investor’s more safety and security, for other centers there is no guarantee that investors will make money on their investment. The more reputable Regional Centers also offer investors an “exit strategy”, allowing them to recoup their investment at the end of a five-year holding period during which their money was at risk.

We Can Help You Make Your Immigration Dreams Come True!

In order to assist you and your family in obtaining a Green Card (U.S. Residency) through the EB-5 investor visa, our attorneys will thoroughly review your case to determine eligibility. For more information on Investor Visas or other Business Immigration, please call or email our office to schedule an Attorney Consultation. We look forward to meeting you and helping you to achieve your immigration dreams!

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