The EB-5 investor visa program was launched by the United States in the 1990s. The intent of the plan was to attract foreign investments into the United States to give a boost to America’s economy. The plan worked, and the program has been in operation ever since.

Qualifying for an Investor Visa

To qualify for the EB-5 investor visa, a foreign citizen must make a qualifying contribution into a U.S. based venture. To qualify under the program, the contribution must be at least $500,000 (if invested into a predesignated region or industry in need of investments) or at least $1,000,000 (if invested anywhere else). Once an contribution is made or a substantial step toward an investment has been made, the foreign investor may apply for an EB-5 visa.

Something that foreign investors should be aware of is that the government does not reward failed investments. If an EB-5 visa is issued, it will be issued for a period of up to two years. Within this time, the contribution must have created at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers (jobs created for the investor’s family members do not qualify) if the contribution was made into a new venture.

If the investment was made into an existing venture, then the contribution has two years to increase the company’s net worth or employee workforce by 40%. If the contribution is unable to meet these mandated minimum benchmarks, an investor’s visa and the family visas attached to the investor’s visa may be revoked. This is why an amount of due diligence is required of the investor before he or she hands over any cash for an investment.

Regional Centers a Permanent Fixture

Something that foreign investors should be glad to know is that Regional Centers, which were also launched in the 1990s as a pilot program within the EB-5 investor program, have been declared a permanent fixture of the EB-5 visa program. Formerly, authorization for Regional Centers to operate had to be renewed every few years by Congress, but the last time it was up for renewal, Congress voted to make Regional Centers permanent, which means they won’t going anywhere for quite a while.

Foreign investors should like the Regional Center program because it increases their chances of making a successful investment. Regional Centers are privately or publicly owned entities that direct EB-5 investment funds on behalf of investors within a specified regional area. The program benefits the regions where the investments are made because the investments of multiple investors can be pooled together to fund more expensive (but also more likely to succeed) projects.

Since the investor would be removed from the day to day direction and management of an investment, the investor doesn’t even need to have any specialized experience or business acumen in order to make a successful EB-5 investment. Like always, however, no investment is guaranteed, and the risk of failure is not eliminated simply because a Regional Center is used.

Partnering with an Attorney

Whether the investment is being self directed or placed into a Regional Center, a foreign investor should still work with our experienced EB-5 investor visa attorneys for help through the EB-5 investor visa application process. Working with an EB-5 investor visa attorney will help to ensure that the requirements of the program are met, that all paperwork is filled out accurately, and that an application has the best chance of being approved as possible.