Orange County EB-5 Investor Visa Lawyer
Orange County EB-5 Visa Attorney
The EB-5 visa program is the only federal immigration program permitting foreign investors to obtain a green card, or permanent residence, in the United States. This program is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and was created by Congress in 1990 to foster the creation of jobs through foreign investors' capital investment. The program allows the issuance of up to 10,000 visas per year. In addition to the principal investor, the investor's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may qualify for the visa as derivative beneficiaries. Investors may either invest directly in a business that creates jobs or through a regional center, i.e., an area designated by USCIS to promote economic growth. In general, to qualify for this program, each investor must:
- Invest a minimum of $1 million in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, or at least $500,000 if the investment is made in a rural or high unemployment area
- Demonstrate that the invested capital was legally obtained
- Prove that the investment will create or preserve jobs, either directly or indirectly
All investors have to invest in a "new" commercial enterprise. To qualify as "new," the business must be either one that was established after November 29, 1990; one that was established prior to that date that has been restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new business results; or one that was established prior to that date that has been expanded in such a way that it produces a 40% increase in the net worth of the business or the number of its employees. A commercial enterprise includes sole proprietorships, joint ventures, corporations, partnerships, and holding companies.
The required capital investment includes investments of cash, equipment, inventory, tangible property, equivalents of cash, and indebtedness that has been secured by the foreign investor's assets, as long as the foreign investor is personally and primarily liable and the assets of the new commercial enterprise are not used to secure any portion of the indebtedness. Investment capital does not include borrowed capital or any assets that have been acquired by unlawful means.
The minimum amount of investment that must be made in the United States is $1 million; however, if the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area – meaning either a rural area or an area with high unemployment that is at least 150% of the average national rate – then the minimum investment may be $500,000.
Job Creation Requirements
When jobs are being affected directly, the investment must create or preserve a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years after the foreign investor has been admitted to the United States. Meeting this requirement by preserving jobs may only occur if the business is a troubled one, meaning that the enterprise has existed for at least two years and has experienced a net loss of at least 20% of its net worth during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the investor's priority date on his or her Form I-526.
In 1992, Congress changed the law to allow private entities or regions to submit applications to be deemed "regional centers." Regional centers are public or private economic entities that advance economic growth, increase productivity and investment in the region, and create jobs. To become a regional center, an entity must apply to USCIS and demonstrate how it will promote growth in its area of the United States. As a result of this change in the law, foreign investors who want to invest in regional centers are permitted to count not only jobs that would be created directly, but indirect jobs as well. Around 95 percent of all EB-5 visas are provided via regional-center programs.
Advantages and Disadvantages
For foreigners with adequate capital to invest, the EB-5 visa is the easiest path to gaining U.S. citizenship. Alternatives, such as trying to find a sponsor employer, often require significant paperwork and have huge waiting times. Unlike many other visas, however, EB-5 visa holders do not automatically receive a green card. Instead, they are given a two-year conditional residence status. To obtain a permanent green card, investors must file and gain approval of an I-829 petition seeking removal of the conditions on his or her residency. The I-829 petition requires a filing fee, additional documentation, and further processing time.
Because the EB-5 visa program involves a fair amount of risk, it is advisable to seek counsel when applying. If you are interested in petitioning for an Orange County EB-5 Investor visa and would like to speak with a qualified immigration attorney, call Scott D. Hughes today at (714) 987-2671. I am an experienced Orange County immigration lawyer who is ready to help you.
- About the EB-5 Visa, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 4 April 2016.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investor Process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 25 June 2014.
- The EB-5 Visa Program: What it is and How it Works, American Immigration Council, 2 February 2016.
- I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 9 March 2016.
- I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 9 March 2016.
- Should Congress Let Wealthy Foreigners Buy Green Cards?, Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, 21 September 2015.
- U.S. Immigration Program for Foreign Investors Sees Demand Surge, Eliot Brown, The Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2016.