The EB-5 “Immigrant Investor” program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to promote capital investment and job creation in the United States. The program, which is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), achieves these goals by:
- Offering foreign investors the opportunity to obtain permanent residence (a “green card”) in the U.S. for the investors and their spouses and children under the age of 21.
- Requiring foreign investors to make a minimum investment of $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise in rural or Targeted Employment Areas, or $1 million in other areas, which creates at least ten full-time U.S. jobs.
In 1992, Congress expanded the Immigrant Investor program by enacting the Regional Center Pilot Program, which was most recently reauthorized in 2012. The pilot program:
- Requires Regional Centers to meet certain criteria to receive designation as a Regional Center by USCIS.
- Sets aside EB-5 immigrant investor visas for investment through Regional Centers.
- Expands EB-5 qualifying investment to include indirect creation of U.S. full-time jobs and allowing passive investment to meet EB-5 visa requirements.
A green card may be obtained under the EB-5 program either through a direct investment in a business that the foreign investor will manage or through a passive investment in a Regional Center. The advantages of investing in a Regional Center include:
- Relieves the investor from the need to participate in the day-to-day management of a business.
- Leaves the investor free to choose any location in the United States in which to live (and work if the investor chooses), without regard to the location of the Regional Center.