Under U.S. immigration law, wealthy foreigners can obtain permanent residency (Green Card) by investing at least a half-million dollars in a commercial enterprise that creates at least new 10 jobs for U.S. citizens of lawful permanent residents.
The EB-5 visa was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) in 1990, to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
The EB-5 visa does not require a job offer from an U.S. employer (sponsor). Among all the business visas available, the EB-5 is the most desirable as it leads to a Green Card in the United States for the main investor, spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
The EB5 is reserved for foreign nationals who make an investment of $ 1.000.000 in a commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time workers. Workers must be U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (i.e. lawful permanent residents) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the United States.
If the investment is made in a rural area (outside an urban area with a population of at least 20.000 people) or an area of high unemployment (150% of the national average), the investment can be of $500.000.
After the financial collapse of 2008, applications for EB-5 visas have risen dramatically, with only 776 applications in 2007 and 6040 applications in 2012. Last year the number reached the 10.000 visas cap. Most of immigrant investors come from China and Russia.
The EB-5 program has an excellent approval rate, which is over 80%. Also, it created 46.810 jobs and more than $2.3 billion in investments since its inception in 1990, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). More than 85% of those investors were ultimately granted permanent Green Cards.
The EB-5 program created a direct path to U.S. citizenship by investment. In fact, after 5 years of lawful permanent residency, an investor and his family is eligible to apply for US Citizenship.
There are two ways to make an EB-5 investment: either through an approved Regional Center (indirect) or through direct investment (independent).
A Regional Center is any economic unit, public or private, involved in the economic growth, improving regional productivity, job creation and increasing domestic capital investment. A Regional Center is the easiest and most common way for most foreign investors to go about the process. There are currently 287 Regional Centers throughout the U.S.
Regional Centers are a good solution for immigrants who are not interested in the management and control of a company but are interested in a Green Card and US Citizenship by investment.
A Direct Investment can be done in any legitimate productive activity that creates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within 2 years.
The EB-5 Visa program has been growing in recent years, and has been used to fund projects affected by a slow economic recovery.
Nowadays, besides the United States, only a few other countries in the world (such as Cyprus, Austria, or Malta) have on place programs for citizenship by investment.