EB-5 Basics

The EB-5 visa offers foreign investors the opportunity to invest a substantial amount of capital into a U.S. based venture in exchange for a visa that would allow them to become residents of the U.S.

Limitations placed on the program require foreign investors to meet minimum investment thresholds of either $500,000 in certain hard hit American industries, or $1,000,000 in all other industries.  Investors are also required to show that their investment will create at least 10 jobs for qualified American workers.

There are currently two ways to make an EB-5 investment.  Through a “Regional Center” or by simply working with U.S. ventures directly to build a business.  A Regional Center is an entity in and of itself, that is either public or private, that directs economic growth for a specified region.

When a person invests through a Regional Center, the investor also pays certain fees in order to have the investment managed by the Center.  In this case, the investor would not need to be in the U.S. in order to make the investment work for EB-5 purposes.

Direct Investments

If investing directly into a qualifying U.S. based venture, foreign investors may or may not need to be involved in day to day management and therefore may or may not need to be in the U.S.  The actual responsibilities of the person will depend on what position the person is given on business entity documents.

An experienced immigration attorney can review business entity documents to determine what position the investor holds in the business and what duties, if any, the investor will have in the day to day management of the business.

Management from Abroad

In most cases, there is nothing that prevents a foreign investor from managing his or her investment from abroad, but investors need to keep in mind that the purpose of the program is to trade investments for residency.  To ensure everyone who wants to live in the U.S. gets a fair chance, foreign investors who want to invest but who don’t want to spend a majority of their year in the U.S. are advised to seek other routes of investment.

Not only will this free up visas for foreign investors who actually want to live in the country, but it is practically required based on the requirements of the program.  In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa and keep it active, the foreign investor is required to spend at least 180 days per year in the U.S.

Get the Advice of an Attorney First

There are several nuances to U.S. immigration law that can affect a foreign investor’s application.  Every case is unique and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney to ensure all EB-5 program requirements are met or can be met before an investor puts up any of his or her investment capital.

The attorney will be able to guide the investor through the EB-5 process and ensure that the investor has as good a chance of being approved for the visa as anyone else.