The US government administers ЕВ-5 Program. This is one of the most reliable and direct ways to apply for a Green Card, suitable for wealthy people having substantial capital to make an investment in a qualified commercial project in the United States.
The ЕВ-5 visa allows foreign investors willing to invest $800,000 or more in a commercial project or their own business in the United States to receive permanent residency. Under this program, investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a Green Card. Thus, the EB-5 program is a reliable means of acquiring residency, and, ultimately, citizenship, if the investor so desires.
BASIC POINTS OF THE PROGRAM:
An immigrant investor wishing to become lawful permanent residents of the USA makes an investment in a qualifying commercial project, providing he can prove the legality of this capital. The necessary investment requirement depends on the project location:
- $800,000 or more when investing in a project located in an area of high unemployment or in a rural area. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will determine such areas that are not associated with any city or state. Typically, areas of high unemployment rate are found in almost every American city;
- $1,050,000 or more when investing in the project not located in the above areas. The investor can make investments both to promote his/her your own business in the U.S. and to support investment projects of the Regional Centers.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO MAKE INVESTMENTS:
- In one’s own business. This is an active way of investing. The investor will bear responsibility for managing his/her business operations and meeting the requirements of the EB-5 program.
- In a project under the Regional Center Program. This is a passive type of investing. The Regional Center will manage the project, and will ensure all the requirements of the Program are satisfied without resetting any involvement from the investor. More details are below.
ALL INVESTORS MUST:
- Establish that they are the legal owners of the capital and prove its traceability. This means that, for example, money received from selling an apartment (which is a common scenario), the investor must show how he acquired this apartment and how he earned money to buy it—going all the way back to the beginning, in other words — to show after the fact how the investor had earned all the capital.
- Invest this capital in a project (own business or a Regional Center project). By the time the petition is filed, the capital must already be “at risk,” i.e. invested in the project or an escrow account controlled by the Regional Center;
- If investing in his own business, the investor must create 10 new jobs for workers within 30 months of making investment. Be aware, these must be new jobs, i.e. if the investor invests in an existing business that already employs 10 or more people, the investor will still need to create 10 new jobs to be eligible for the EB-5 Program.
When investing in the Regional Center project, the latter will be responsible for creating the jobs and fulfilling all requirements of the program.
Please note: When investing in a Regional Center project, the return of invested funds occurs on average after 5-7 years. Exact terms and conditions depend on each project.
A regional center is a private organization approved and regulated by the government, bringing together various stakeholders — such as investors, banks, managers, and labor organizations — to cooperate with other enterprises to use their projects to participate if the EB-5 program. Such promising areas include real estate, trade, HoReCa, and other targeted areas encouraging immigrant investors to invest their capital. Regional Centers are in close collaboration with well-known international corporations engaged in building hotels, shopping malls, and urban neighborhoods across the country. The effectiveness of such business ventures is clearly proven by figures: in the last 10 years, the number of Regional Centers have grown from 50 to over 800 (!), and they receive thousands of petitions from those willing to participate in the ЕВ-5 Program. The outcome is quite positive: the approval rate is objectively high.
Today, 95% of all ЕВ-5 petitioners make investments using Regional Centers. The reasons are:
- The Regional Center becomes your team. The project receiving investments is protected in a way by various participating reliable partners interested, just like the EB-5 investors, in the successful launch of the project and return of their invested capital. They carefully monitor the project at each stage of its launch, thus, preventing possible adverse developments;
- The investments that investors make is of a passive nature, as the Regional Center is responsible for the complete management of the project;
- The Regional Center is also responsible for creating and maintaining jobs. This is of a particular importance, as not every start-up business is able to ensure, from day one and throughout the entire immigration process (6 to 7 years), that its 10 employees will receive wages and salaries, especially given their size in the US. Quite often, this requirement to create and maintain minimum 10 jobs for employees becomes a stumbling rock for the investor in own business leading, sometimes, to significant financial losses or even a ban for further participation in the program. The Regional Center, therefore, by participating in the project releases the investor from the necessity of creating jobs, paying their wages, and monitoring other aspects of the business, thus making very attractive this type of investment. It is much easier for participants to comply with the job creation requirements, since Regional Centers may count both direct and indirect ejobs for projects they sponsor.
- Regional Centers control and adjust such important issues as the return and/or reinvestment of invested capital The only thing the investor needs is to instruct he/her advisor to verify the integrity of the Center and to obtain certain protections and legal remedies to reduce immigration and financial risks. Please pay attention to an important note from experts on investment support: if the investor cannot obtain such protections and legal remedies, he/she may deem it as a red flag;
- When making investments in Regional Center projects, the investor receives interest on the invested capital for the entire duration of the investment. The interest rate size depends on the specific Center and project.
When speaking about Regional Centers, one can’t omit such issues as guarantees of the return on investment. This the issue of greatest interest for potential petitioners. Unfortunately, there is no such guarantee as American law requires that EB-5 investments be at risk. Nevertheless, there are indirect ways for you to protect yourself and your own investment.
As mentioned above, there is a large number of registered Regional Centers today. Nevertheless, the investor should take serious care and thought when choosing a center to make investments, selecting those centers that have been in the market for a long time and have proven themselves, i.e. have completed their long-run projects and returned the invested capital to investors. Their experience and reputation serve as an unwritten guarantee for the investor.
Apart from that, many Regional Centers provide a completion guarantee. Should the Regional Center run out of capital and cannot complete the project for any reason, its insurance company takes over the project to complete it by itself, and returns the capital to the investors upon completing the construction.
There are other mechanisms of protecting the investors’ interests. Some project contracts, for example, stipulate that, in case the project is completed and the money is not returned to the investors’ account on time for any reason, a share of the proceeds from the operations of the business will be withheld for the investors. Thus, the investor will receive his/her capital back this way or another, but in several tranches.
Summary: the ЕВ-5 Program serves as a direct and reliable way to receive a Green Card for the whole family through qualified investments. And when investing in the Regional Center project — quite profitable as well given the investment earnings and return of invested capital on average in 6 to 7 years. As a rest, the cost of Green Cards for the whole family will really consist only of the government filing fees, the attorney’s fees and admin fees of the Regional Center.
The EB-5 Program stipulates the following stages of obtaining permanent residence and U.S. citizenship
Choose an immigration attorney with experience in EB-5 Program
Choose an EB-5 project (Regional Center, franchise, or own business) and investment project, making investments ($800,000+ administrative fee), compiling documents to demonstrate the legality of the source of capital to be invested, submitting an I-526 petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews the I-526 petition and issuing a conditional Green Card valid for 2 years in case the petition is approved. Please note: If the petitioner comes to the United States after filing the ЕВ-5 petition, he/she is eligible to get conditional permanent residence for the duration of the petition review.
Legitimate stay of the investor and his/her immediate family members in the USA, and permission to work and travel without any restrictions using the conditional Green Card which is valid for two years.
21 months after receiving the Green Card, the attorney files an I-829 petition to withdraw the status of a conditional permanent resident
5 years after receiving the conditional Green Card, the investor is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The investor receives a permanent Green Card upon approval of the I-829 petition.
Return of the invested capital (when using a Regional Center project)
The above time periods are approximate and may vary.
History of the EB-5 Program
The acronym ЕВ-5 literally means employment-based fifth preference category. It was first approved by the U.S. Congress in 1990. For 30 years, the program has been regularly updated and adjusted.
Starting in 2008, the Program became most famous and widespread. Facing the global financial crisis, the majority of banks and investment institutions have applied stricter rules regarding loans granted. Thus, American businessmen, most often developers, decided to look for other ways of attracting the capital, including foreign sources.
The government-supported EB-5 Program helps attract, according to statistics, an average of 1.8 to 4 bln dollars annually to the U.S. economy.
The quantity of visas issued per year under the EB-5 Program is limited to a quota of 10,000 visas. This quota is distributed among the countries in an equal amount based on a set algorithm. In other words, citizens of any country can only apply for a certain number of EB-5 Visas each year. Should the quantity of applications for EB-5 Visas filed by citizens of any country be less than the issued quota, the “unused” visas will be distributed among the citizens of other countries.
The demand for EB-5 cisas depends on a country. Normally, citizens of European countries usually do not take up the annual quota allocated to them, while the Asian region traditionally has high demand for the EB-5 investor visa. The situation is especially somber for residents of China and India: demand for the EB-5 visa there exceeds by far the annual quota issued. People in those countries take up both visas allocated for them, and visas “unused” by other countries.
As the majority of EB-5 petitions is filed by citizens of Asian countries (for example, over 32,000 ЕВ-5 petitions filed by the Chinese have been approved), the State Department and the U.S. Immigration Services deemed the situation disadvantageous regarding investors from other countries whose quantity is much lower. According to the U.S. government, investors from all over the world, and not only from a particular part of it, should participate in the Program. Thus, since April 2020, petitions filed by citizens of Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and other European states are first to be reviewed while petitions from Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese investors are reviewed after others.
One can only feel sympathy for Chinese investors, who, in spite of having thousands of petitions approved, will have to wait for 16 years to get a visa in their passport because of this huge queue and the residual principle of applied to consider their new petitions.
Pros to choosing the EB-5 Visa
When compared with other U.S. immigration options, EB-5 is one of the most reliable ways to obtain a Green Card. People would choose EB-5 for the following reasons:
- They look for a reliable way to get a Green Card for the whole family;
- They want a better future for their children, want them to get education at America’s top universities;
- They wish to develop their own business in a country being the world’s largest economy and a model of economic stability;
- They prefer passive type of investment, when the project manager takes over the business management.
Often, the turning point to a businessman is the possibility to move to the USA. The American economy houses the majority of the world’s finances. Provided you have desire, persistence, and talent, you can achieve a lot. You can operate an honest and transparent business without fear of corruption.
There are other attractive moments:
- One of the highest standards of living in the world;
- A great climate to fit every desire: if you fancy snow and seasonal periodicity, Colorado or Wisconsin is a perfect place, if you dream of eternal summer, you will definitely love Florida or California;
- A safe future for children — despite global economic turmoil, America has always been a model of stability;
- The USA is a land of immigrants. Unlike Europe, you will never feel here like a “foreigner,” “stranger,” “alien” as you will be surrounded by the same newcomers from all over the world, or their children, or grandchildren. This is the reason why people feel so easy at home being in the United States;
- A possibility to get a world-class higher education at a reduced price, because tuition at U.S. universities is much cheaper for residents. Consistently, U.S. universities win leading positions in annual rankings as the most favorable places to study. And graduates of local universities are rightfully considered as some of the most expensive professionals in-demand in the world.
Disadvantages of the EB-5 Program
Barriers to successful immigration under the EB-5 Program:
- You need to invest considerable capital.
- Complicated petitioning procedure. You can’t sort out all the traps and pitfalls, you need an experienced advisor. Even more so, such advisor must have many years of experience with EB-5 petitions.
Recent changes in legislation
- On March 11, 2022, the U.S. Congress passed a new law regulating the ЕВ-5 Program and Regional Centers. The main changes concerned the increase minimum investment amount up to $800,000 project located in an area of high unemployment rate or in a rural area, and up to $1,050,000 for other projects;
- In addition to increasing the amount of capital to participate in the program, the new law introduces a number of other changes to the program. For example, from now on, it is for the Immigration Services only to determine target employment zones (previously, this issue pertained to the states’ responsibility). Also, the Congress introduced technical innovations regarding the activities of the Regional Centers, and prescribed new fees.
The most welcoming innovation for investors relates to the permission for the investors and their families to stay in the USA for the duration of the petition review (taking today about 30 months). Moreover, by filing an EB-5 petition, the investor is eligible to get work authorization and visa-free entry/exit while the petition is pending. The very fact of filing an EB-5 petition allows the investor and his/her family to get the same rights as a Green Card holder has. This was impossible previously, thus, investors had to come to the USA using a tourist visa or seek other visa types allowing them to stay in the country while waiting for a decision on their ЕВ-5 petition.
The reasons why people seek AmLaw Group for advice
Over 12 years, we have been successfully providing comprehensive immigration services to the United States specializing in business immigration. Our company has over 1,000 completed petitions and an impeccable approval record – 98% of immigration petitions that we have filed have been approved by the USCIS. We can find a way out of the most desperate situation!
Our distinctive features are:
- individual approach to each case — we never work in then traces;
- accompanying services — our job goes beyond the limits of simple legal advice. We assist our clients in finding and selecting suitable projects and businesses, help choosing a school or university for children, etc.;
- a comprehensive package of services — we will not leave you alone to deal with a whole host of issues. We will always stand by your side: to give advice, to help, to do.
We will be happy to accompany you from the moment you decide to move to the USA until you fully adjust to your new country.