What’s the EB5 Investor Program?
The EB5 investor program was launched by the U.S. government in the 1990s as a way to attract foreign cash into the United States. To do this, the law established the EB5 investor visa, which was awarded and continues to be awarded to foreign investors who invest a substantial amount of capital into the U.S. economy by way of investing in a U.S. based business venture. Minimum investment amounts require investors to invest at least $500,000 in predesignated, hard hit and financially struggling American industries, or at least $1,000,000 in any other industry.
Do I Need a U.S. Citizen or Resident to Sponsor an EB5 Visa?
Perhaps the best part of the EB5 investor program, aside from giving foreign citizens the chance to legally live and work in the United States, is the fact that foreign investors are not required to find a sponsor in order to successfully pursue the investor visa. Unlike other visas that require a sponsor, the EB5 visa is granted on the foreign investor’s own merits and ability to come up with the required investment amount.
Specific Rules that Investors Must Follow
The EB5 investor program is a great opportunity for foreign citizens on the path toward eventual permanent residency, and even naturalized citizenship, in the U.S., but those that fail to follow the strict investment guidelines required by U.S. immigration policy can face unnecessary delays and application denials. For starters, the venture into which the foreign investor places his or her money must be a legitimate U.S. based venture, requiring a significant amount of due diligence on the part of the investor to ensure that only a legitimate and lawful business is being funded.
Further, the funds used as an investment must also be legitimate, and provably so. The government is strict on this point to deter money laundering by organized crime and terrorist organizations. Tax documents and bank statements will usually suffice to prove the legitimate origin of an investment.
Finally, the last major hurdle that foreign investors must face is proving that the investment will create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers (in the case of an investment into a new venture) or will expand an existing venture by at least 40% (in terms of net worth or employees).
The Risk of Applying for a Visa Without an Attorney
Foreign investors who try to navigate the EB5 investor visa application process are encouraged to work with an attorney to do so because of the risks that those who don’t work with an attorney can face. Only a limited number of EB5 visas are granted per year, 10,000 as of last count, and they are granted on a first apply, first served basis. A foreign investor who fills out an application wrong, or who fails to show that the investment to be made complies with established policies, may have to reapply for the visa from the beginning, requiring them to add several months to the amount of time they will have to wait in order to be awarded the visa. Those who are eager to begin living and working in the U.S. should work with an attorney in order to minimize the risk of application denials.