Procedures and Timing for EB-5 Green Cards Through Investment


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For foreign investors looking for freedom and flexibility to live and work in the United States in a way accommodating to their lifestyles, the EB-5 investor category can provide an excellent opportunity to accomplish this goal through the obtaining of Green Cards.

There are essentially two EB-5 programs, i.e. the Direct investment program and the Regional Center program. In order for an applicant to qualify under the Direct program, the following three basic requirements must be met: investment in a new commercial enterprise; investment of at least $1 million (or $500,000 in certain cases) into the business, and creation of employment for at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.

The investment may consist of various forms of capital, including cash, equipment, inventory, property, and other tangible equivalents. An investment amount of $1 million is generally the minimum. However, $500,000 is acceptable if the business is situated in a “targeted” employment area, i.e., one that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate or a rural area.

The second program within the EB-5 category, i.e. the Regional Center program, is ideal for the retiree or inactive investor due in large part to the “indirect employment” feature of this program. The Regional Center program advantageously removes the 10 full-time employee requirement of the Direct program and substitutes the less-restrictive “indirect employment creation,” which allows the investor to qualify by proving 10 direct and/or indirect employees who are new to the Regional Center.

The EB-5 policy management requirement is minimal in that the investor can be a limited partner and still qualify as long as the limited partners have a policy making role. Thus, for those who are not interested in day-to-day management or running an active business, Regional Center programs offer a more acceptable inactive form of investment, than do most Direct program investments.

Another advantage of Regional Center programs that adds to the flexibility of this Green Card category is that the investor is not required to live in the place of investment; rather, he or she can live wherever he/she wishes in the United States.

Each Regional Center program must be pre-approved by CIS in order to be eligible to offer investments to applicants who want to qualify for EB-5 Green Cards. CIS has approved over 700 Regional Centers.

The procedure for filing an EB-5 Investor Green Card petition is relatively straightforward. The investor must present evidence that traces the funds through bank transfers and other documentation, from the investor directly to the enterprise. The money can be the investors own funds or in the form of a loan or gift, which would allow a parent to gift a son or daughter.

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