EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
Permanent Residence through a $500,000 Investment
Under the EB-5 Visa Program, a $500,000 investment in a "Regional Center" enables foreign investors to qualify for the Green Card without the constraints of having to set-up and manage a U.S. business. This immigration option allows investors to live in any U.S. state, engage in a business, employment, or any activity of the investor's choice, or just retire.
The law firm of Anthony Olson, P.A. has successfully processed numerous EB-5 investor visa petitions on behalf of investors who qualified for the Green Card through a $500,000 investment in a "Regional Center" Project.
What Is a "Regional Center"?
A so-called “Regional Center” is a legal entity, organization, or a municipal or state agency that has been designated as such by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), which enables foreign nationals to qualify for permanent residence based on their investment in the center.
Regional Centers focus on specific geographic areas within the United States where they seek to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.
Regional Center Operation & Obligations
A Regional Center sets up limited partnerships, each with its own business activity, and manages the business of the limited partnerships as the general partner. Foreign investors who wish to obtain permanent residence in the United States may become limited partners through a $500,000 investment in a project.
The Center must show that the new commercial enterprise has followed through with certain business activities that have brought about the creation of 10 or more jobs per investor. The new commercial enterprise does not have to hire workers, but rather must show, based on calculations by an economist, how the business activities brought about the creation of the 10+ jobs per investor in the local economy.
The investor applying for the EB-5 visa must prove that he/she has invested funds that were obtained through legitimate means such as employment, business ownership, investment, inheritance, or a gift. USCIS typically expects the investor to provide the last 5 years of tax returns from the investor's home country or country of current residence, and to document clearly how the investment funds were obtained.
Sample Projects & Activities of Various Regional Centers
The Regional Centers throughout the U.S. focus on different economic growth activities. Different programs have different green card approval track records, depending on the project activities, the job creation methodology, and on the length of operation of the respective Regional Centers.
The following are some examples of past Regional Centers business activities:
- Providing of loans to government authorities for commercial development of former military bases
- Providing of loans to large entertainment companies for production of films and television programs
- Providing of loans to property developers for construction and rental of medical facilities to a university medical school
- Development and production of industrial equipment
- Development and operation of fuel grade ethanol production facilities
- Development of assisted living facilities
Processing the Initial I-526 Petition
When Anthony Olson, P.A. receives confirmation that the investor client has made the $500,000 investment in the chosen Regional Center Project, the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, referred to as I-526 petition, is being prepared and submitted to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The Regional Center is responsible for providing all relevant information pertaining to the Investment Project to the investor's attorney, and it is crucial for obtaining approval of the initial I-526 petition that the investment funds were legally earned.
It currently takes approximately more than 12 months for the I-526 petition to be adjudicated. The processing time can vary from one Regional Center to another, if USCIS has doubts and/or additional questions about a given Regional Center or project.
Applying for a 2-Year Conditional Green Card
When the I-526 petition is approved, investors have the option of adjusting their status to permanent residence in the U.S., if they are already living in the U.S. in non-immigrant visa status. If they live outside of the U.S., they must complete the immigrant visa process through the U.S. consulate. Adjustment of status in the U.S. generally takes approximately 4-6 months, while immigrant visa processing through the consulate takes about 4-6 months. Once either of these two processes is completed, the investor will have obtained a two-year conditional permanent residence.
Applying for the Permanent Green Card
During the final 90 days of the two-year conditional residence period, the investor must file the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, referred to as I-829 petition, to remove the condition from his/her permanent residence. As part of that process, we must show that the investor has maintained the investment, and we must present proof to USCIS from the Regional Center that it has brought about the creation of at least 10 jobs per immigrant investor, as presented in the I-526 petition. The number of jobs created is calculated with the help of an economist's model, and consists of a combination of direct, indirect, and induced jobs. This process currently takes 12+ months.
The investor should conduct his/her own due diligence by retaining a certified public accountant to examine all financial aspects of the program, and a business attorney to examine all legal aspects of the program. Prior to investing in any regional center program, the investor should understand in great detail how the given business works, whether he/she is comfortable with investing in that program, and what the investor's rights and obligations would be as a limited partner in the project.
The Job Creation Requirement
The job creation methodology is the single most important aspect to consider when examining regional center programs. In order for the investor to qualify for removal of the conditions from his or her conditional permanent residence, USCIS must be convinced, based on calculations presented by an economist, using a reasonable methodology, that enough jobs have been created, namely 10 jobs per investor in the program. Different regional center programs use different methodologies for calculating the number of jobs created, which means that the job calculation can be based on the creation of directly or indirectly created jobs, or induced jobs. The investor must ensure that he/she understands the job creation methodology in the chosen Regional Center.
USCIS policy requires that the investment be in place until the condition is removed from the investor's conditional permanent residence. Additionally, it is a legal requirement that the funds be placed at risk of partial or complete loss in a commercial sense, as any real business investment would be.
The Regional Centers are not permitted to guarantee the return of the investment funds. However, it goes without saying that the Program's success depends entirely on the safety of the investment. It is very important for the investor to understand the investment "exit strategy" of the chosen EB-5 Regional Center.
Choosing a Regional Center Project
When it comes to choosing a particular Regional Center in which to invest, the investor should make an informed decision based on the results and reputation of the Regional Center and on personal priorities. Some investors focus mainly on the return on the investment, others are more interested in the investment exit strategy, and most want to be sure that the investment is financially well secured by the Regional Center Partnership. The track record of the various Regional Centers will enable the investor to make a choice that suits his/her needs and expectations.
Please feel free to request a report prepared by Attorney Anthony Olson in which he explains the requirements and process for immigration under the EB-5 program. Call us at (941) 877-6587.