The EB-5 Program began in the early 1990’s as a way for foreign investor to obtain green cards while spurring local development, economic growth, and job creation. An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must generally make a qualifying investment of $1 million and demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment.

To encourage immigration through the EB-5 program, Congress created a pilot program in 1993. The program specifically sets aside 3,000 visas annually for foreign investors who apply through a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated regional center investment program.

An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must also demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment.

There are three primary ways to meet the investment requirements of the EB-5 visa program:

  • Invest at least $1 million in a new business that directly creates at least 10 new jobs
  • Invest at least $1 million in a “troubled business” that has incurred an operating loss for the preceding 12- to 24-months of at least 20% of the business’s net worth; the business must maintain or exceed its pre-investment number of jobs for at least two years after the investment
  • Invest at least $1 million in a business located within a designated “regional center” and directly or indirectly creates at least 10 new jobs
  • This more expansive view of job creation can be a tremendous advantage for investors in regional center projects; as a result, 90% to 95% of the EB-5 applications filed each year involve regional center investments

The minimum investment is lowered to $500,000 if the investment is located within a “Targeted Employment Area” (designated as having an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average) or a “rural area” (where the population is less than 20,000).