Is the EB5 Visa a Good Idea for Foreign Professionals?

The answer to this question largely depends on what the professional’s intentions are once they reach the United States. For the purposes of this discussion, a professional is someone who would need to be licensed, certified, or accredited in order to work in his or her profession in the United States.

Doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and architects are just some of the types of professionals who would have to meet U.S. standards before being allowed to practice professionally in this country. Whether or not a person is awarded an EB5 investor visa will have no bearing on the person’s ability to practice in their former profession.

Therefore, if a person’s only desire is to work in his or her former profession in the United States, the EB5 investor visa may not be the best route to U.S. residency. Not only would the person need to come up with the minimum investment amount to qualify for the EB5 visa, but the person would then need to pay to meet U.S. licensing and certification requirements for the profession he or she wants to work in.

Who Should Consider the EB5?

If foreign citizens don’t care about whether or not they will be able to work in their profession of choice, then the EB5 visa may be something they will want to consider. If approved for an investor visa, foreign investors will also be able to get visas for the members of their immediate families, including husbands, wives, and children up to age of 21.

Once approved for an investor visa, a foreign investor may also be able to help more distant family members get their own visas, but these would be issued on a case by case basis following a standard application process.

Who Can Qualify?

Almost any foreign citizen who meets certain financial requirements can qualify for an EB5 investor visa. The government requires foreign investors to invest at least $500,000 in certain hard hit American industries or $1,000,000 in any other. The cash must be invested in a U.S. based venture and must lead to the creation of at least 10 jobs for qualified U.S. workers. The law also requires that the money invested remain “at risk” or, in other words, the funds can’t be guaranteed by any secondary agreement (otherwise, the money would be a loan, not a true investment).

Word of Advice

Once an investor invests any amount of money into a U.S. venture, there is no guarantee that the investor will make a profit or even earn back any of the original investment at all. This is a risk of making an investment.

Foreign investors, before investing any cash, are encouraged to contact a U.S. immigration attorney who can ensure the venture is legitimate and qualifies as an investable business under EB5 rules. Simply investing in a U.S. venture without first having some due diligence performed can be a very costly mistake that may only prolong the EB5 approval process.