The EB-5 green cards program was created in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging foreign investment. The EB-5 program allows you to obtain lawful permanent residence (i.e. a green card) for you, your spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 through investment. You must make an “at risk” capital investment in a U.S. commercial enterprise to qualify for an immigrant visa under the EB-5 program. Capital is not limited to cash, but can include equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents, and indebtedness secured by your personal assets.
The minimum required investment will be either $900,000 or $1.8 million, depending upon the project in which you invest. A minimum investment of $900,000 is sufficient if you invest in a project located in a Targeted Employment Area (i.e. TEA). A Targeted Employment Area is either a rural area or a location where unemployment is high. If you choose to invest anywhere else, an investment of at least $1.8 million is required. Regardless of the minimum investment amount, your investment must lead to the creation of at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
You can either invest directly into a new company or in a regional center. Direct investment is a great option if you own a foreign business, have previously run a business, or are interested in starting your own business. Direct investment allows you to exercise maximum control over your investment and the project in which you have invested. It also allows you to try to maximize your return on investment while at the same time deriving immigration benefits. However, as a direct investor, you will need to find your own investment project and assume a direct role in the management of your new business. Your investment must lead to the creation of at least 10 direct permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
Investment in a regional center is a great option if you are more interested in obtaining lawful permanent residence (i.e. a green card) than the return on your investment. Investing in a regional center allows you to invest less money and avoid involvement in the day-to-day management of your investment, which can be a good alternative for those who lack experience running a business. The job creation requirement is also less restrictive with regional center investments as the 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers can be “direct” and “indirect” jobs. This means that job opportunities created by businesses servicing the company in which you invested or are part of the supply chain can be used to meet the job creation requirement.
Regardless of whether you invest directly into a new company or in a regional center, it is important to note that you must be able to show you are the legal owner of the invested capital and that you lawfully acquired this capital.