In 1990, the United States congress created the EB-5 visa classification. Currently, there are a couple of different ways that foreign investors can obtain the EB-5 visa status. The first way allows foreign investors to help catalyze the U.S. economy through direct monetary investments in new or existing commercial enterprises that promotes job creation. The second way allows foreign investors to invest capital through a “Regional Center”. Established by congress, this program is known as the Immigrant Investor Program or the Regional Center Program. For both the Direct Investment Program or the Regional Center Program, the EB-5 investor must show a plan that the new commercial enterprise will create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees.
If the EB-5 investor operates under the Direct Investment Program, job creation lies solely on the hands of the EB-5 investor. Direct job creation is the product of an investment which has created and sustained ten new actual identifiable jobs over a two-year period. However, if the investor were to invest capital through a Regional Center program, the investor does not need to show evidence that he or she directly hired any employees. In this case, the responsibility of proving job creation is passed onto the Regional Center.
Whichever program the EB-5 investor decides to venture into, the minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million. If the business receiving capital is located in a Targeted Employment Area (a rural area or a region with high unemployment), the minimum investment amount is reduced to $500,000.
If one is considering the EB-5 visa as well as studying in the United States, an issue of dual intent may arise since the original intent for immigrating to the United States permanently through the investor visa program is for investment purposes and having other motives may disqualify you from a student visa (F-1). To avoid this issue, it is advised that one should start studies in the United States once they become a conditional permanent resident.
To apply for the EB-5 visa, one can follow the steps below as outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
· File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
· File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa abroad to seek admission to the United States.
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