The EB-5 “Direct” Visa was created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This program provides a method of obtaining a Green Card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States.

Initially, under the original EB-5 “Direct” Visa, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the EB-5 Regional Center Program, investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing – “Troubled Business”) through 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.

To obtain the EB-5 “Direct” Visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area” – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers, excluding the investor and their immediate family. If the investor’s petition is approved and the U.S. consulate issues the visa, the investor and his/her spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 will be granted conditional permanent residence that is valid for two years. Within the 90 day period before the conditional permanent residence expires, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and 10 jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable time period.

Regional Centers

A Regional Center is any economic entity, which has been designated by USCIS to be involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.

The EB-5 Regional Center Program was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 on Oct. 6, 1992 and has been extended through September 30, 2015. The EB-5 requirements for an investor under the EB-5 Regional Center Program are essentially the same as in the original EB-5 “Direct” Visa. The difference is that the EB-5 Regional Center Program provides for investments that are affiliated with a “Regional Center.” Investments made through Regional Centers can take advantage of a more expansive calculation of job creation including direct, indirect and induced jobs.

In order to receive a designation to become a Regional Center, organizers must submit a proposal showing:

  • How the Regional Center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States and promote economic growth in that region.
  • How, in verifiable detail (using economic models), jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the Regional Center’s business plan.
  • The amount and source of capital committed to the Regional Center and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.
  • How the Regional Center will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy.

EB-5 Regional Center Program

The requirements for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which allows for the immigration applicant to create a new business through a designated Regional Center, are as follows:

  1. Investment must be made in a new business (created after 1990) or a business that was substantially reorganized or restructured after 1990.
  2. The individual must invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000 of capital into that business depending upon the area in which the business is located. ($500,000 is only sufficient if invested in areas considered as “targeted employment areas”).
  3. Business results must benefit the U.S. economy and create direct, indirect, or induced employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.
  4. The new business owner (the immigration applicant) must actively participate in the management of the new business, which may be accomplished by being a limited partner or member in the new business.

Targeted Employment Areas

A targeted employment area (“TEA”) 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.

Capital Investment Requirements

The investor is required to invest a minimum of $500,000 for investments in a new business located within a TEA. This $500,000 amount is the minimum allowed by the United States law to qualify for the EB-5 Green Card in a TEA.

As per federal guidelines, the EB-5 investment must be made “at-risk”, and any guarantee of return of capital is strictly prohibited. If given, the guarantee negates the ”at-risk” requirement of the EB-5 law, and the investor’s petition will be denied.

Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.