EB-5 Program Overview
In 1990, under section 203(b) (5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. Â§ 1153(b) (5), Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category for qualified foreign investors seeking to invest in a business that benefits the U.S. economy by creating or preserving at least 10 full-time jobs.
The initial amount required for foreigners to invest is $1 million, although that number is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in an area designated as rural or facing high unemployment. Approximately 10,000 green cards are available through the EB-5 program each year.
The new rule modernizes the EB-5 program by:
Providing priority date retention to certain EB-5 investors;
Increasing the required minimum investment amounts to account for inflation;
Reforming certain targeted employment area (TEA) designations;
Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence; and
Making other technical and conforming revisions.
Nov. 21, 2019
The standard minimum investment amount has increased to $1.8 million (from $1 million) to account for inflation.
The minimum investment in a TEA has increased to $900,000 (from $500,000) to account for inflation.
Future adjustments will also be tied to inflation (per the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U) and occur every 5 years.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS GUDIANCE
The immigrant investor category requires three main elements:
•An investment of capital;
•In a new commercial enterprise;
•Which creates jobs.
Each element is explained in this chapter in the context of both the stand-alone program and the Regional Center Program.
For the general requirements, the term immigrant investor in this Part of the Policy Manual refers to any EB-5 investor-petitioner, whether investing through the stand-alone program or the Regional Center Program. Where distinctions between the two programs exist, the term non-regional center immigrant investor refers to petitioners using the stand-alone program, and the term regional center immigrant investor refers to petitioners using the Regional Center Program.
A. INVESTMENT OF CAPITAL
Congress created the immigrant investor category so the U.S. economy can benefit from an immigrant’s contribution of capital. This benefit is greatest when capital is at risk and invested in a new commercial enterprise that, because of the investment, creates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The regulations that govern the category define the terms capital and investment with this economic benefit in mind.
B. COMPREHENSIVE BUSINESS PLAN
A comprehensive business plan should contain, at a minimum, a description of the business, its products or services (or both), and its objectives.
The plan should contain a market analysis, including the names of competing businesses and their relative strengths and weaknesses, a comparison of the competition’s products and pricing structures, and a description of the target market and prospective customers of the new commercial enterprise. The plan should list the required permits and licenses obtained. If applicable, it should describe the manufacturing or production process, the materials required, and the supply sources.
C. NEW COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE
A new commercial enterprise is any commercial enterprise established after November 29, 1990. Therefore, the immigrant investor can invest the required amount of capital in a commercial enterprise established after November 29, 1990, provided the remaining eligibility criteria are met.
A commercial enterprise is any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business. This broad definition is consistent with the realities of the business world and the many different forms and structures that job-creating activities can have.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM REQUIRED AMOUNT OF CAPITAL TO BE INVESTED IN ORDER TO APPLY FOR AN EB-5 VISA？
When investing through a Regional Center, the minimum capital investment requirement is $500,000 USD when you select a project in a designated rural area or Targeted Employment Area (TEA). For other projects not meeting these criteria, the capital investment requirement is $1,000,000 USD.
WHAT IS A TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA (TEA)？
A Targeted Employment Area, or TEA, is a geographic area in the United States which is either Rural (has a population of less than 20,000), is not part of an MSA, or has an unemployment rate that is 150% of the national average.
MUST I HAVE PREVIOUS BUSINESS EXPERIENCE OR EDUCATION？
The investor is not required to have any prior business experience. Likewise, the investor is not required to demonstrate any minimum level of education. The only requirements for the investor are that he or she has the required investment amount from lawfully obtained capital and is able to provide the necessary personal background documentation to the USCIS.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE INVESTOR’S ASSETS BE “LAWFULLY GAINED”？
Under USCIS regulations, the investor must demonstrate or provide proof that his assets were gained in a lawful manner. This requires the investor to prove his investment funds were obtained through lawful business, salary, investments, property sales, inheritance, gift, loan, or other lawful means.