The EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is one of the five employment-based (EB) preference programs in the United States. This visa provides a method for eligible immigrant investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing at least $1,000,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.

Often times these visa holders invest in targeted employment areas such as rural or high unemployment areas because the investment threshold lowers to $500,000. This investment is seen as very advantageous for those areas. By putting more money into a business and creating new jobs for American workers, the visa is designed to help boost the American economy. This is a major reason as to why this visa is being favored by the current administration.

While initially the EB-5 visa holders are issued a conditional green card, after a period of time (given their investment does, in fact, produce 10 new jobs), they are able to apply for a permanent green card. This effectively allows them to become permanent residents.

The EB-5 visa was created in 1990 by the Immigration Act of 1990 and has grown to become a way for wealthy foreigners to move to the United States. By 2014, the vast majority of EB-5 visas were granted through regional centers. By May 2017, there were 88 USCIS-approved regional centers. By 2015 the program had become an important source of capital for developers and for the regional centers, making this visa program extremely valuable. Also in May of 2017, President Trump renewed the EB-5 visa program as part of his first major piece of legislation during his administration.

Who Can Obtain an EB-5 Visa

When it comes to the EB-5 visa, there are only two qualifications that must be met. This is very different from other visas which can have a long list of qualifications that must be met to apply. To obtain an EB-5 visa, a person must be able to invest at least $500,000 (plus additional costs such as fees and taxes) into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs. The second qualification requires proof that the money was lawfully obtained and is not borrowed money.

immigrant investor applying for an EB-5 VisaThese qualifications make the visa open to many more people. The process of investing in a business is also made easier by choosing to invest in a regional center. These are businesses that have been approved to accept investments from EB-5 visa holders. Additionally, if these regional centers are located in rural areas with high unemployment, an investment of $500,000 is required as opposed to the normal $1,000,000.

How the EB-5 is Different From Other Employment Visas

Many people are attracted to this visa because it does not require you to speak English, have business management experience, meet any educational requirements, and college fees are offered at the same rates as U.S. citizens. This is vastly different from other visas which have numerous specific qualifications that have to be met.

Another reason many people are attracted to this visa is that it offers the benefit of permanent residency. While permanent residency is not initially granted, it can be applied for after a period of time, usually under 21 months, with the condition that 10 permanent full-time jobs have in fact been created. Some visas explicitly state that while you have them you cannot apply for permanent residency and others can take many years before you’re even allowed to apply.

Why The EB-5 is the “Golden Visa”

One of the major reasons why the EB-5 visa is seen as the “Golden Visa”, is because it is becoming increasingly more popular than the H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is the traditional employment visa that allows for a foreign worker to be hired in the United States and live there. However, the H-1B visa has many aspects that can make it less appealing to some people. These include experience and educational requirements, a time limit for how long you can reside in the United States, an extremely long waiting list, and its lottery system operation.

permanent resident card of an EB-5 visa card holderThe EB-5 visa is different from this because it requires an individual to an invest money into an American business. The only requirements to make this investment are that the funds must be obtained legally, and an applicant must be able to prove they were obtained legally. This is a big part of the reason why the EB-5 is becoming more popular because it is seen as easier to obtain. Not only does it have fewer qualifications than other visas, but in comparison, it is also seen as a quicker way to become a resident of the U.S. The waiting period for the EB-5 is usually 18-24 months, whereas the waiting period for an H-1B visa can be much longer and in some cases, it is as long as 10 years. Other visas such as the EB-2 and the EB-3 also have extremely long waiting lists, which make them undesirable to some people.

The current administration has also cracked down on the number of H-1B visas, which is why some people have started to look towards the EB-5 visa. The EB-5 is being seen as a better alternative to the H-1B visa. The EB-5 visa also seems to be in favor with the current Trump administration, since the EB-5 visa is seen as a way of stimulating the American economy. For more information, reach out to an Immigration Attorney to learn more about the EB-5 visa and your eligibility to apply.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.