EB-5 A Unique Approach to Project Financing

The EB5 Regional Center Program

In 1990 Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category for qualified foreigners seeking to invest in a business that will benefit the US economy and create or save at least 10 full time jobs.

The Immigrant investor, or EB-5, program is highly benficial permanent residence option for the wealthy individual. Since there is no quota waiting list in this preference category, it enables a foreign national to obtain permanent residence status more expeditiously than with most other options.

The EB-5 category requires an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in a high unemployment or rural area) in a commercial enterprise that will employ 10 full-time US workers.

Of the approximately 10,000 EB5 green cards available each year, 3,000 are reserved for foreign nationals who invest through a Regional Center.

Passive Investor

Although the investor’s role cannot be completely passive, he or she does not have to be involved in any way in the day to day management of the business unless he or she wants to do so. It is critically important that the investor be able to document the lawful source of investment funds, whether his/her owns or funds given to him/her as a gift. The permanent residence obtained by the investor is conditional for two years and can be made permanent upon satisfying USCIS at the end of the two years that the investment proceeds have not been withdrawn and the requisite jobs have been created.

The investor may invest in his/her own commercial enterprise or in a commercial enterprise owned by other parites. The investor may also choose to invest in a pre-approved “regional center”. Regional centers are geographical areas for which USCIS has determined that investments will create the necessary 10 jobs per investor, whether directly or indirectly, in the geographical area. Virtually all of the regional centers are in geographical areas where $500,000 is the required amount of investment. Most of the regional centers involve limited partnership investments for which having the rights of a limited partner is considered sufficient to make the investor not completely passive.

The purpose of this program was initiated because congress wanted to encourage foreign EB5 investment in the US economy. In this manner congress permitted the US immigration agency to designate qualified applicants as regional centers. A regional center is a private enterprise or a regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined demographic region. In the US over 98 percent of immigration investment is conducted through USCIS approved Regional Centers.

A U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services approved Regional Center allows qualified foreign investors to invest in US businesses that create jobs for US residents while allowing the immigrant investor to apply for conditional and then permanent green card status for the investor and their immediate family. Since its creation, the regional center program has been a extraordinarily successful with ample room to grow.

The Numbers

The number of EB5 Visas continues to increase based on improvements made to the EB5. According to the U.S. State Department records, approximately 1,525 visas have been issued in 2009 and subsequent years. In 2012 the total investment in US business has been substantial. With 10,000 visas available annually (assuming $500,000 investments) a potential $5 Billion is available for investments in the U.S. every year.

Year                     EB5 Visas Issued                     Amount Invested
2006                             749                                    $374,500,000
2007                             806                                    $403,000,000
2008                          1,360                                    $680,000,000
2009                          1,525                                    $762,500,000
2010                          1,885
2011                          3,706

2010- Where did the Applicants come from?

Country                   Number of Visas Issued                % of EB5
China                                     772                                      40%
South Korea                          295                                      15%
Great Britain                          135                                        7%
Taiwan                                    94                                         5%
India                                        62                                        3%
Iran                                         55                                       2.9%
Mexico                                    50                                       2.6%
Canada                                   45                                       2.4%
Russia                                     41                                       2.2%

Who can Benefit?:

  • Retirees who are self-sufficient and just want to reside in the United States
  • Foreign investors wishing to purchase real estate or establish second residences
  • Foreign nationals who qualify for permanent residence through family or employment but are on  extremely long waiting lists
  • Graduate Students who have no job offer or have a job offer but are shut-out by the H-1B quotas
  • Parents who want a child to study in the US and obtain in state tuition
  • Foreign nationals who are reaching the 6 year limit for their H-1B visa status
  • A CEO or corporate manager whi is being hired by a company but not being transferred from its overseas subsidiary
  • Investors who might be eligible for treaty investor visas but their country does not have an investment treaty with the U.S.
  • A foreign national investor in a US business who does not want to be active in the day to day operations of the business
  • Enterpreneurs or students who want to start their own business
  • Spouses of permanent residents
  • Doctors who have not passed USMLE 1,2 and 3
  • Foreign nationals employed by employers who cannot or will not pay legal fees and advertising costs for a labor certification
  • Foreign nationals who need/want to get out of country with problems
  • Foreign nationals with urgent need or desire to become a permanent resident
  • Individual owners of a business outside of the U.S.
  • Many other foreign nationals who may have no options for legal status in the U.S.