EB-5 Explained: Important Things to Know about the US Immigrant Investor Program

Why does the United States allow Immigrant Investors?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows qualified immigrant investors—who will contribute to the economic growth of the United States by investing in U.S. businesses and creating jobs for U.S. workers—to obtain U.S. visas.

Understanding the potential benefits (economic and cultural) of accepting immigrants under a special classification, Congress created this employment-based fifth preference immigrant visa category (EB-5). These visas are designed to incentive foreign capital investment that creates or preserves U.S. jobs—something that ultimately helps the United States as a whole.

What are some things to know about the Investor Visa programs?

According to USCIS, INA authorizes around 10,000 visas each fiscal year for immigrant investors. The 10,000 visa includes the applicants' spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. Though 10,000 visas sound like a large number, the sheer number of interested applicants makes this process more competitive. This stresses the importance of finding the right immigration lawyer to make sure your application is the most compelling.

In order to be successfully admitted into the EB-5 program, the applicants must be in the process/already finished investing in a new commercial enterprise, while also fulfilling a job creation requirement. These requirements may vary from region or with time. If you are unsure of the details, it is highly advised that you seek legal counsel before proceeding with the application.

According to INA, the threshold investment amount is now $1.8 million (compared to $1 million prior to the inflation update in November 2019). In other words, if an investor—or team of investors—can accumulate $1.8 million into a new business enterprise in the United States, the applicant will have satisfied one important requirement.

This recent update highlights the importance of receiving the most updated information. Making the mistake of not taking the new investment threshold into account could have seriously delayed an applicant's plans. Just make sure to have the right legal counsel to ensure that you know all the important details.

Additionally, there is a slightly lower minimum investment threshold for Congress' targeted employment areas (TEA) where the minimum amount is only $900,000. In these rural areas with high employment, Congress is trying to incentivize more economic growth with cheaper, more attainable financial thresholds.

What do I need to become an Immigrant Investor?

There are essentially three main elements for immigrant investor category: (1) an investment of capital, (2) new commercial enterprise, (3) job creation. Every EB-5 investor is expected to satisfy all three of these elements.

Moreover, interested applicants will have to go through the standard procedure for obtaining a visa. This may include subsequent security waivers, embassy, interviews, etc. It is highly advised to keep these factors in mind when applying through this visa category.

For US immigration matters, what counts as assets or capital?

For immigration purposes, capital is used with a broader definition that considers a variety of ways a person can make contributions (of financial value) to a business. For instance, cash, equipment, inventory, cash equivalents, and other assets owned by an immigrant investor is considered capital. When evaluating the tangible assets into capital, the goods will be valued at a fair market in U.S. dollars.

How many jobs do I have to create in order to qualify?

To obtain a US visa through the immigrant investor program, the invested amount of capital and new commercial enterprise must create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers. Though there are exceptions to this general rule, most interested applicants should reevaluate and make sure that the enterprise can meet this requirement.

The immigrant investor program is ultimately a mutually beneficial relationship for successful, well-connected immigrant investors and the United States government. The investor visa facilitates the creation of new jobs while the investor has a chance to come to the United States and expand their businesses overseas.

The investor visa typically is given in two-year terms; however, there are many options in order to adjust for a more permanent U.S. residence that will be easier to accomplish once in the United States. If you are an interested applicant, it is highly advised that you seek guidance from our immigration office today, as we are experienced with investor visas.

It is advisable to seek legal guidance from our office today as we strive to help guide you with your specific case. 

Attorney Ramona Kennedy cares about your case and will fight for you.

You can contact attorney Ramona Kennedy Law Offices (Kennedy Law LC) for an initial consultation and case evaluation. The first consultation is free of charge. 

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