With President Trump's foreign policies with Iran, some Iranian investors become uneasy about pursuing an EB-5 visa. This article will clarify the new updates and explain important things to know before pursuing an EB-5 petition.
First, Iranian nationals must understand that EB-5 petitions are still a viable option for investors looking to immigrate to the United States. Despite President Trump's harsh rhetoric against Iran, Iranian investors can still successfully petition for an immigrant visa.
With the new sanctions implemented by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), U.S. entities must do their research to make sure that the funds offered are not coming from OFAC sanctioned entities. As long as the funds are not associated with OFAC's sanctions, the EB-5 petition will be processed like any other investment application.
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.
Important 2019 Updates on EB-5 U.S. Immigration
In an effort to modernize, USCIS has recently made important changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program that go into effect as of November 21, 2019. For interested applicants, these new changes will be important to know before applying.
USCIS has made a few major reforms such as:
- Increasing the required minimum investment amounts as to account for inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, and will occur every 5 years)
This means that the standard minimum investment will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million as of November 21, 2019. For investors looking into Targeted Employment Areas (TEA), the minimum investment has increased from $500,000 to $900,000. This new threshold is very important to know before proceeding with the investment program.
- Reforming certain targeted employment area (TEA) designations
USCIS will now directly oversee and review the designation of Targeted Employment Areas. This is a major change, as the role of designating TEA was left to the state and local government. In addition, the range of cities and areas that can be eligible for TEA status has been broadened. USCIS believes these changes will help provide employment opportunities to communities that need them most.
- Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence
USCIS wants to make it clear that when spouses and children of EB-5 investors file for a removal of conditions on permanent, they must file separate forms. In addition, USCIS has stated that they will make the interview locations more flexible and accommodating.
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.
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 an immigration lawyer that is experienced with investor visas.
Where is the Best Place to Invest?
Lastly, prospective investors should remember the importance of where they invest their hard-earned funds. Experience suggests that investing in your own company or buying out a pre-existing company is the best option—if possible.
Creating a new company or buying out a pre-existing company is preferable because of the control an investor can still have. Investing your funds into regional centers may create problems related to business oversight. By maintaining control of your funds, you will be able to control how the funds are spent in the United States.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.
For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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