EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:
- Make the necessary qualified investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
- Through such investment, the commercial enterprise plans to create or preserve 10 long-term full-time jobs for qualifying employees.
This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants are aiming to 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. This 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.
About the EB-5 Visa
USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
The EB-5 Adjudications Policy Memorandum is the guiding document for USCIS administration of the EB-5 program. It builds upon prior policy guidance for adjudicating EB-5 and is applicable to, and binding on, all USCIS employees.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
- Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
- Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
- Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
- Expanded through the investment so that a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs.
Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:
- A sole proprietorship
- Partnership (whether limited or general)
- Holding company
- Joint venture
- Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned
This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.
Note: This definition does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.
Job Creation Requirements
- Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
- Create or preserve either direct or indirect jobs:
- Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
- Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.
Note: Investors may only be credited with preserving jobs in a troubled business.
A troubled business is an enterprise that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. For purposes of determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
A qualifying employee is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States. The individual may be a conditional resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B visa holder) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.
A full-time employment position can be filled by two or more qualifying employees in a job sharing arrangement as long as the 35-working-hours-per-week requirement is met. However, a full-time employment position cannot be filled by combinations of part-time positions, even if those positions when combined meet the hourly requirement. 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(e). Direct jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature do not qualify as full-time jobs for EB-5 purposes. Consistent with prior USCIS interpretation, however, jobs that are expected to last for at least two years generally are not intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature.
Capital Investment Requirements
Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered capital for the purposes of section 203(b)(5) of the Act.
Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.
Required minimum investments are:
- General. The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
- Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.
A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.
A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the decennial census.
Disclaimer: In servicing EB-5 investors and the US companies seeking capital from EB-5 investors, Global Alliance Securities acts as an investment banker and securities broker. It does not provide legal advice or immigration services. At investor’s request, we will cooperate with investor’s legal counsel by supplying, upon investor’s authorization, certain business documents related to the investment that might be necessary for the EB-5 immigration requirements. We, however, encourage EB-5 investors to seek legal representation with respect to their immigration needs, independently.