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Immigration by Investment – EB-5 Visas: Green Cards for Immigrant Investors

What is an EB-5 Visa?  It Allows You To Live Permanently In The United States

An “EB-5 visa” refers to the path of obtaining U.S. lawful permanent residence through investment.  The EB-5 Program is the most flexible immigration program in the world.

Who can obtain an EB-5 Visa?

Under this program, entrepreneurs or the principal investor (and their spouses and investor’s unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) as derivative beneficiaries.

WHY CHOOSE AN EB-5 VISA?

There are many visa options available to foreign investors, however, these options are all for “nonimmigrant” visas. In other words, they authorize a temporary stay and carry with them many restrictions. In contrast, the EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, open to all nationalities, granting the qualifying applicant permanent resident status, commonly known as having a “Green Card”.

THE MANY BENEFITS OF AN EB-5 VISA OR GREEN CARD?

Permanent resident status carries with it many benefits of which investors would want to avail themselves. A Green Card holder can petition for permanent resident status for his spouse and children under the age of 21. It removes employment restrictions, allowing the investor to work in any field he desires, as well as making him eligible for social security upon retirement. It makes international travel simpler, as an I-94 is no longer required upon entering the country. It allows foreign national homeowners to apply for homestead exemption and realize significant tax savings. Essentially, becoming a permanent resident affords the Green Card holder all the rights and benefits of American citizenship except voting rights. If the investor desires, permanent residents may apply for naturalization (citizenship) after five years.

THE EB-5 PROGRAM (Individual Investment); What is the minimum investment required?

To be eligible for an EB-5 visa, an individual must meet three basic requirements:

(1) invest at least $1 million in a New Commercial Enterprise in the U.S. (or invest at least $500,000 if the investment is made in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA-see below));

(2) prove that the capital invested comes from a legal source (e.g., was not obtained through criminal activities); and

(3) show that the investment has created or preserved, or will create or preserve, at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers.  Additionally, the investor is required to take an active enough role in the business that he has at least a policy-making position.

THE $1,000,000.00 EB-5 DIRECT INVESTOR VISA

To qualify for this visa, an investor must contribute at least $1,000,000 in capital to the business in the form of cash, equipment, inventory, and other tangible property. Loans do not qualify unless they are secured by assets owned by the investor (not the business), who is personally and primarily liable for the debts.

The investment must also be in a “new commercial enterprise.” Although the investor is free to invest in a company that was only very recently started or establish his own, any business formed after November 29, 1990 qualifies.  Finally, there is no limit to the number of EB5 direct investment partners on any given new commercial venture, as long as each $1,000,000.00 investment results in the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs. Therefore a group of foreign investors are allowed to partner in a new commercial venture.  These jobs must be directly created as a result of the investment. The only exception to this requirement is if the company is considered a “troubled business,” one experiencing a net loss for one or two years of more than 20% of its net worth.

Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business.

THE $500,000 EB-5 DIRECT INVESTOR VISA

The Regular Program also includes a $500,000 investment option, provided the investment is in a “targeted employment area.”

There are two different qualifications for targeted employment areas. Investors can either choose to create jobs in a rural area, which can be anywhere outside of a city with a population of 20,000 or more or outside of a metropolitan statistical area, or they can invest in a business in an area with high unemployment (at least 150% the national average).  

A “Targeted Employment Area” (“TEA”). A TEA could be one of the following:

•    Rural Area – An area that is both outside of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and outside of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more, based on the most recent U.S. census.
•    High Unemployment Area – An area with an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate for the same period, based on the most recent information available to the general public from federal or state governmental sources at the time of investment. State agencies have the authority to designate customized geographic areas as high unemployment areas for TEA purposes.

For a free legal consultation, please call (956) 994-8072, to schedule an appointment to visit with Immigration Visas Lawyer Genaro Fraustro.

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