The fifth employment-based immigration preference category, known as EB-5, refers to a green card process for foreign investors. Under this program, foreign national entrepreneurs or investors (to include, their spouses and unmarried children under 21), are eligible to apply for permanent residence (a “green card”) if they: 1) make the necessary investment in a new commercial enterprise in the United States; and 2) plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U. S. workers. The immigrant investor program or EB-5 appropriates 10,000 visas annually for qualified foreign nationals. The entrepreneurs or investors are initially granted conditional permanent residence for a two-year period, and may then apply to have the conditions on his residency removed provided the conditions listed above are met during the conditional two-year period.

Eligibility for an EB-5 Visa

The foreign national is expected to invest capital valued at $1,000,000 ($500,000, if in a “targeted employment area”) in a new or troubled commercial enterprise. A commercial enterprise is defined as any for-profit activity formed for the conduct of lawful business and includes, but is not limited to: sole proprietorships, partnerships, holding companies and their wholly-owned subsidiaries, joint ventures, corporations, and business trusts or other entities. The invested capital may include cash, equipment, inventory, tangible property, and must have been obtained by lawful means. In addition, the enterprise must benefit the U. S. economy and create full-time employment for not less than 10 qualifying U. S. employees. The foreign national must submit a comprehensive business plan showing the need for not fewer than 10 employees, including approximate dates of when, within the next two years, those employees will be hired. The foreign national must be engaged in the management of the enterprise either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation. An attorney in Michigan could review an investment to determine if it meets the standards of an EB-5 visa.

During the foreign national’s conditional residency period, the foreign national must document the progress of the investment and job creation/preservation, and submit the same concurrently with a petition to remove the conditions on residency with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Once the petition to remove conditions is approved, the “green card” becomes permanent.

Immigrant Investor Regional Centers

A foreign national may also qualify for an EB-5 visa by investing through regional centers approved by USCIS to promote economic growth in designated areas. A regional center is an economic entity, public or private, that promotes economic growth, regional productivity, job creation, and capital investment. A foreign national who invests in a regional center project may take advantage of more expansive job creation to include both “indirect” and “direct” jobs to qualify for the immigrant investor visa.

To obtain “regional center” designation by the USCIS, the entity must submit a proposal identifying: 1) the geographical area; 2) a detailed description of how the capital investment will create qualifying jobs; 3) a detailed prediction of how the center will impact earnings, services, utilities, construction; 4) the administrative structure of the center; and 5) how the center will promote economic growth in the geographical area, to include documentary evidence. As of January 4, 2016, USCIS has approved approximately 790 regional centers.

Most recently, the vast majority of immigrant investor visas were issued to foreign nationals investing in regional centers located in target areas. To learn more about this type of immigration permit, reach out to an attorney at our AV rated immigration law firm today.

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