The EB-5 Visa is a Pathway to a Green Card for Investors
We don’t often associate money with the ability to gain entry into the country. In fact, we would like to think that the immigration process is income-neutral. But there is one type of visa that has to do in some part with money—specifically, investments.
The EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 visa was set up to encourage foreign investment in the united states. The visa is available to investors who are looking to establish a new business in the U.S. However, investors looking to purchase an existing business, or significantly alter, improve, or expand upon existing businesses can still qualify.
Generally it doesn’t matter what kind of corporate legal structure the applicant’s business will have—for example, corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, etc. The business also must be a “for profit” company.
The law was created to encourage job stimulation, and that’s what the visa requires. Applicants need to anticipate creating at least 10 full time jobs in the enterprise. These jobs must be created within 2 years of obtaining the visa.
However, there is an exception for those purchasing struggling or failing jobs. Applicants must show that they will maintain the current employment level for two years. There are specific requirements to show what a struggling business is, so investors looking to rely on this “job maintenance” exception should make sure that they qualify.
Of course, money to invest is usually the central and most important question in applying for the visa. Applicants must show that they have access to at least $1 million in capital, but if applicants are seeking to start jobs in lower employment areas, or in rural areas (both of which have specific definitions that must be met by applicants) they can show an ability to invest $500,000.
These numbers don’t necessarily have to be dollars. They can be the value of equipment or inventory, or the extension of debt or credit.
Applicants will have to show that all funds come from legal sources, and that the applicant is actually an active participant in the business—for example, involved with daily management or policy decisions of the business’ operations.
Benefit to the U.S. Economy
The EB-5 visa does have another catch-all provision, which is that the applicant must show a benefit to the overall U.S. Economy. So, our previous example, of someone buying a home to rent out would likely not qualify, even if 10 people were employed full time to “work” on it. The same can be said for a business that hired ten employees, but the business’ purpose was to manufacture goods overseas.
Passive investments, such as simply buying stock, also will not qualify as benefiting the economy (as defined for immigration purposes).
Those who meet these qualifications can obtain a permanent green card for themselves, as well as immediate family.
Questions about obtaining a green card or a visa if you are looking to invest in a U.S. business, or for any other reason? Contact the Palm Beach County immigration attorneys at Devore Law Group to help you with your immigration questions.