Groups » Five Facts About the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Business Visa

In the U.S., small businesses are responsible for 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of net new job growth since the mid 1970s. Franchised businesses represent 40 percent of all retail sales, and jobs for more than eight-million Americans.

Is it easy to move your family and business to the United States? Not quite – but, the process is fair and provides an alternate method to establish residency in the U.S. for families, while allowing them to remain independently employed (and to employ others) by joining the American small business sector.

1. Why the U.S. EB-5 Program Was Created

America makes it possible for entrepreneurs to immigrate using the EB-5 program through the United States Citizen Immigration Services (USCIS) Department of Homeland Security. The program was instituted in 1990, followed by the Immigrant Investor Program (Regional Center Program). The fifth category of U.S. visa qualification allows business owners to apply for a green card, or permanent residence status, if they meet specific business criteria.

The EB-5 visa was designed to encourage overseas business investment in the United States, and to create a stimulus for new job creation. It allows for entrepreneurs and business owners, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one years to apply for the special green card status.

2. The Investment Criteria to Qualify

In order to qualify to apply for the EB-5 Program, there is a series of criteria that must be met. Applying for a green card (landed resident status) can take many years, depending on the individual’s country of residence, and the EB-5 Program allows individuals to access landed status on a slightly shorter timeline, with higher approval rates than other types of visas issued by the USCIS.

To qualify for the EB-5 Program, business owners must invest in a new commercial enterprise that meets the program guidelines, including:

Investing in the establishment of a new for-profit sole proprietorship-based business, or registered as a limited or general partnership, corporation, or holding company in the United States.

Planning to create or preserve a minimum of 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S.-based workers.

To prevent people from using the EB-5 exclusively as a “short cut” to gain American legal residency, or to bypass other lengthy immigration routes, the EB-5 business immigration terms eliminate some start-up and micro-business owners. Your business must be established, in order to qualify for the EB-5 Program.

3. Who Qualifies as a U.S. Employee?

In order to meet the requirement of ten (10) full-time jobs for American-based workers, each worker must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) and authorized to work (permit) within the United States. The worker may also be a conditional resident (pending green card issuance), but may not include any family members of the petitioner who are not authorized to work within the United States.

The criteria also require that all ten employees of the newly established commercial enterprise must be employed full-time, for a minimum of 35 hours each week. Job-sharing arrangements are permitted under the EB-5 Program, but each employee must accrue at least 35 hours per week, individually. Workers’ compensation and unemployment premiums, as well as other taxable benefits, must be paid by the employer for all full-time employees.

4. What is the Minimum Investment Amount?

For the EB-5 Program, most foreign business owners are required to invest $1 million dollars in the creation of a new American-based business. However, there is a provision called the “Targeted Employment Area” (TEA) that can allow foreign business owners to invest $500,000 instead, if they choose one of the selected areas that is known for having higher economic and job creation needs.

In other words, if a business owner wished to open a business in a major city, where there are plenty of jobs and other businesses, that owner would have to pay the maximum investment rate. However, if they chose a small town, or a TEA area that is known for underemployment, the amount required for investment is less than half under the EB-5 Program. The intention is to bring new business growth and job opportunities to the areas of the United States that need it the most.

5. How Many EB-5 Visas Are Issued Annually?

In the year 2007, the quota was limited to the issuance of only 700 EB-5 Program visas per year. In 2014 and 2015, the program reached its maximum quota of 10,000 visas and stopped accepting applications toward the end of each year.

For established owners, business immigration law and the entrepreneur EB-5 Program is streamlined to welcome in new economic growth, and innovative business leadership. For more information and filing tips, visit the USCIS website.

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