Employment Creation Aliens: Who Qualifies for the EB-5?

The EB-5 Program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a way to help stimulate the US economy by utilizing foreign investors. This program allows entrepreneurs who are going to invest a significant amount of capital in a commercial enterprise in the United States, as well as their immediate spouse and children under 21, to become legal permanent residents (“green card”).

Those who qualify for the program are known as “Employment Creation Aliens.”

In order to qualify, these individuals must have invested, or actively be in the process of investing at least $1 million. There is an exception that drops that amount to $500,000 if they are investing the money in a “Targeted Employment Area.”

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) as an area that has at least 150% of the national average of unemployment, or a rural area.

The government allocates 10,000 EB-5 visas per year, 3,000 of which must be used in Targeted Employment Areas.

Additionally, an applicant’s investment in a company or creation of a company must result in the creation or preservation of a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US workers, not including the investor and his or her family. USCIS defines “US workers” as either US citizens, legal permanent residents, asylees, or refugees, and cannot include nonimmigrant workers.

Initially, approved applicants and their immediate family will receive conditional green cards for a period of two years. Within 90 days of the expiration of this time period, the investor must prove that the required investment was made and that the requisite jobs were created or will be in a reasonable period of time in order to achieve a permanent green card.

When the EB-5 was first created, foreign investors could only qualify if they were investing in a brand new commercial enterprise, but the criteria was later expanded to include investment in existing businesses. If investing in an existing business, the company must be expanding to 140% of its pre-investment net-worth or number of employees, or it must qualify as a “Troubled Business” in which investment will preserve at least 10 existing, full-time US jobs.

If you are interested in investing in the United States or have questions about investment immigration, please call Saleh and Associates to discuss whether or not an EB-5 visa could be right for you, and for help applying and fulfilling the necessary criteria.

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