The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is also known as the regional investor program, and it allows people to apply for a green card (which would grant them and their spouses, as well as any unmarried children who are under the age of 21) permanent residency in the United States.
To acquire a green card under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, a person would need to invest a significant sum of money into a commercial enterprise in the United States, and have a plan to either create or preserve employment for 10 permanent, full time American workers.
The program is called the EB-5 because it offers participants the fifth preference for employment based immigration and sites like EB5 Diligence offer a wealth of in-depth information. It was created in 1990, in order to stimulate the economy in the USA via the creation of jobs and capital investment. It applies to new commercial enterprises – meaning businesses that were established after November 29th 1990, or that have been expanded to the point that the company is worth an additional 40 percent or more, or a similar increase in the number of employees happens. The business can be any form of legal, for profit company – including a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, joint venture, trust or other public or privately owned entity.
The company can include a holding company and any wholly owned subsidiaries – as long as those subsidiaries are operating on a for-profit basis and conducting legal business. The job creation requirements give the investor two years (in most cases) to create or preserve those jobs. To be credited with preserving jobs, those jobs must have previously been offered by a business that was troubled – meaning a business that has been making a loss over the last 1-2 years. The loss must be 20 percent of the company’s net worth before the loss.
Qualified employees for the purposes of job creation and preservation are anyone who is a permanent resident or an immigrant that is authorized to work in the USA, however the investor and any immediate family are not considered to be ‘employees’ for this purpose. To qualify as a full time employee, the person must be working for a minimum of 35 hours a week. Job shares can count as one full time employee, but part time employees and ‘full-time equivalent’ employes do not count, even if they are working the correct number of hours.
The investment requirement for the EB-5 visa is $1 million in most areas, but in targeted employment areas – which are areas where there is high unemployment, or rural areas, the investment requirement may be reduced to $500,000. If you are not sure whether the area you are looking at investing in counts as a high unemployment area, or a rural area, contact the embassy and have them check for you, or look at listings published by the Office of Management and Budget. Any area outside of a cty or town having a population of 20,000, and outside of a metropolitan statistical area could be considered rural.