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EB-5 Investment Green Card

The EB-5 category requires an investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and produce 10 full time jobs for workers U.S. workers (citizens or permanent residents) who are not related to the EB-5 petitioner.

Eligibility

One may qualify for an EB-5 visa as follows:

1. Invest $1,000,000 and hire ten employees anywhere in the United States

2. Invest $500,000 and hire 10 employees in an area where the unemployment rate exceeds the national average unemployment rate by 150%

3. Invest in a regional center. Of the 10,000 investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving a CIS-designated Regional Center.

Regular EB-5 Program

Permanent resident status based on EB-5 eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Eligible foreign nationals are those who have invested — or are actively in the process of investing — the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise that they have established. They must further demonstrate that this investment will benefit the United States economy and create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified persons within the United States.

In general, “eligible individuals” include those:

1. Who establish a new commercial enterprise by:

a. Creating an original business;
b. Purchasing an existing business and simultaneously or subsequently restructuring or reorganizing the business such that a new commercial enterprise results; or
c. Expanding an existing business by 140 percent of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth, or retaining all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months; and

2. Who have invested — or who are actively in the process of investing — in a new commercial enterprise:

a. At least $1,000,000; or
b. At least $500,000 where the investment is being made in a “targeted employment area,” which is an area that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate or a rural area as designated by OMB; and

3. Whose engagement in a new commercial enterprise will benefit the United States economy and:

a. Create full-time employment for not fewer than 10 qualified individuals; or
b. Maintain the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years, where the capital investment is being made in a “troubled business,” which is a business that has been in existence for at least two years and that has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months.

EB-5 Regional Center Investment

As noted, of the 10,000 investor visas (EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving a CIS-designated Regional Center.

An EB-5 Regional Center is:

1. Is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved as such by the USCIS;

2. Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States; and;

3. Seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.

The Regional Center program is ideal for the retiree or inactive investor due in large part to the “indirect employment” feature of this program.

1. EB-5 immigrants may invest $500,000 or more in CIS-designated “Regional Centers” in a high unemployment area.

2. The Regional Centers program does not require the immigrant investor enterprise itself to employ 10 U.S. workers. Instead, it is sufficient if 10 or more jobs are created indirectly as a result of the investment.

3. EB-5 Investors in a Regional Center do not have to have day-to-day management responsibility or prove the business employs 10 people. Instead, they may rely on industry job multiplier statistics. Thus, Regional Center programs offer a more acceptable inactive form of investment, than do most Regular program investments.

4. Another advantage of Regional Center programs that adds to the flexibility of this Green Card category is that the investor is not required to live in the place of investment; rather, he or she can live wherever he/she wishes in the United States.

In this program, a promoter makes a proposal to the CIS. If the CIS finds it will benefit a regional economy and shows potential for providing significant indirect employment, the project will be designated a Regional Center. With CIS approval, the promoter forms a limited partnership or corporation.

Each Regional Center program must be pre-approved by CIS in order to be eligible for EB-5 Green Cards. Currently, there are 3 primary CIS approved Regional Center programs available, including:

A real estate limited partnership program

It offers an investment in industrial properties in a specified major city. Generally involves purchasing low-yielding warehouse properties with invested funds and converting them into higher-value mixed used properties, including office space, retail shops and storage space. Investors participate as limited partners of a limited partnership, and can earn regular monthly income from tenant rentals, as well as a share of future appreciation from the project, when sold. Investment periods vary, but cannot end before receipt of the permanent Green Card by the investor.

A limited partnership program

It makes low interest loans to businesses in a specified major city. Business investment and development in this program target industry sectors that demonstrate strong indications of expansion, growing employment needs, and returns on investments. The Regional Center directs its efforts at financing projects and developing enterprises within targeted sectors, including hospitality and tourism, trade, technology, higher education, and transportation. The investment period of this program is 5 years.

Ownership of 80-acre almond farms

In a specified location in California, the investment is used to create a business in California that is 100% owned by the immigrant investor. The business purchases 80 acres of land where almonds are developed, grown and harvested for export. It also purchases raw agricultural stock (almond trees), an irrigation system, plant nutrients and all necessary harvesting equipment and services to develop the land and export the harvested almonds for profit. The investment period for this program is 7 years.

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