How Long Has The EB-5 Visa Been Around?


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The part about the regional center has been around since 1992. It was a 5-year pilot program, meaning it had a 5 year duration as far as the law was concerned. At the end of the 5 years, Congress extended it for another 5 years because it was successful. People were investing, getting green cards and jobs were being created, but it was very small at that time. The law said that 10,000 green cards could be issued under EB-5 per year, and that included spouses and children, so considering the average family of 3, it could be in excess of 3,000 families.

At the beginning, it was just hundreds. It did not even reach a 1,000 for many years and so in its infancy, there were only maybe 10 or 20 regional centers, whereas now there are over 700, and there are over 200 in California alone. The program really grew in the last 4 to 6 years. This is a short history of it.

The government’s fiscal year ends 30 September and the current law expired on 30 September, and it is attached to the funding bill for the government. The Congress could not even deal with the funding on 30 September, not to mention the immigration part. So before it expired, they extended it pursuant to a continuing resolution until 11 December. They have until 11 December to confirm the funding of the government, which is more important than the immigration. They would then add-on four immigration bills that have expiration dates that were extended from 30 September to 11 December. If Congress cannot get their act together by 11 December, then they may kick it down the road to the end of the year. The bottom-line is that it is all attached to funding.

Who Is The Ideal Candidate For An EB-5 Type Of Visa?

There are a number of “Ideal candidates”. This would generally be for someone who did not qualify another way. The minimum investment is currently at $500,000, if the project is in a high unemployment area, meaning one-and-a-half times the national average. The national average for unemployment is under 6 percent, but using an even number, if 6 percent was the unemployment rate, then the unemployment would have to be above 9 percent. It would have to be above 8.8 or 8.9 to be high unemployment; or in the rural area, which would generally be defined as outside the city area with less than 20,000 population.

If it was in either of those two areas, the minimum investment would have to be $500,000, and it would have to create 10 direct or indirect jobs. If it was not in one of those two areas, the minimum investment amount would double to a million dollars with the same requirements of 10 employees or 10 new jobs direct and/or indirect, which is really what it is about.

Who Is Interested In Those Investments?

This would be for people who initially did not qualify for other ways, like other types of green cards. These are generally foreign students who have graduated from universities. In this case, parents would either apply because it covered their children who were unmarried under 21, or they would give their children, son or daughter, the amount of money necessary to invest so that they could get an EB-5 green card.

The other group is people who do not qualify for permanent visas through the usual ways, e.g. people who have degrees, who get jobs, and are sponsored by companies because those companies were not able to find U.S. workers to fill those jobs. They also might be people who worked for companies that have subsidiary offices in the U.S. These are all very limiting methods of getting green cards or visas and many people do not qualify. It started off in the 90s and early 2000, where maybe hundreds of people qualified for EB-5, maybe up to a 1,000 or 2,000. This is the first year the quota was actually hit, meaning 10,000 green cards were issued through the EB-5 program through the end of September to a point where there was a backlog for Chinese applicants.

The backlog for Chinese applicants happened because they constitute over 85 percent of all investors. 15 percent are from all other countries, and because of that, there has been a backlog for over a year for new Chinese investors to get their green cards. It takes a minimum of a year to two-and-a-half years to get the initial green card; whereas for Chinese applicants, it can take an extra year or more longer.

The EB-5 program is for people who either do not qualify or who do not want to go through the process of qualifying for other employment based green cards. The EB-5 program is only for someone who has the money to invest.

What Are Misconceptions Or Misunderstandings About The EB-5 Visa Process And Qualifications?

Some of the biggest misconceptions are firstly, the person would just have to invest the money and they would get their green card, whereas that is far from the truth because there is a job requirement and immigration can be very strict regarding how the investors would have to prove the jobs for whatever their project is, like for a regional center. There are also source of funds requirements, which is probably the biggest misconception people have regarding what would be necessary to prove the source of funds. Most people think that if they have the money in the bank, it would mean it must have been acquired legally. This would just be the beginning, and there is a whole process where the investor would have to show where the money came from by tracing it.

Another misconception is how people find an investment. A lot of people think it would be very easy, but really the investor would actually have to go through a lot of due diligence to make sure they were investing in something where they could get their money back and it would be viable for 5 to 10 years.

For more information on EB-5 Eligibility Criteria, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (310) 477-3000 today.

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