Obtaining an EB-5 Visa by Investing in a Regional Center

For those seeking permanent resident status in the United States, the often underutilized EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program may be a productive avenue. The "Immigrant Investor Visa," or EB-5 visa, is an investment-based opportunity that lets foreign nationals obtain a green card. By investing in a commercial enterprise in the United States and creating jobs for U.S. workers, foreign citizens may be able to become permanent U.S. residents. However, the EB-5 program is not as simple as it may appear, and there are several potential pitfalls to keep in mind.

How the Immigrant Investor Program Works, and Some Things to Consider

The EB-5 visa is commonly called the "million dollar" visa, although it does not always require a million dollar investment. In general, an immigrant investor can obtain permanent resident status through the EB-5 program by investing at least $1 million dollars in a commercial enterprise in the United States and creating at least ten jobs for U.S. workers (not including the investor, his or her spouse, or their children). The money invested must be legally obtained capital: it must come from legitimate sources and cannot originate from drugs, corruption, etc.

An obvious disadvantage of the EB-5 program is that it requires a substantial sum of money. In addition to the required investment amount, further expenses can include administrative fees, legal fees, and the cost of unexpected problems that may arise with the investment. And, as with all investments, work is required on the part of the investor.

Perhaps the easiest way to reduce EB-5 visa expenses is to reduce the initial investment requirement. When investing through a Regional Center in a rural area or one with a high unemployment rate, the capital investment requirement is halved to $500,000. A Regional Center is a public or private entity which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, job creation, and related economic activity. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) maintains a list of approved Regional Center projects. It is published on the USCIS website and is regularly updated.

Another advantage to investing through a Regional Center is that the job creation requirement is much easier to meet; the creation of "indirect" jobs is counted in addition to the creation of "direct" jobs. Furthermore, it is very likely that investing through a Regional Center will require less personal labor for the investor, as Regional Centers often specialize in job creation and handling outside investment capital. Investing in a "troubled" business also makes the ten jobs requirement easier to meet, as you can count jobs "saved" as well as jobs "created." There are many advantages to investing through a Regional Center, and anyone seeking an EB-5 visa should give it serious consideration.

What to Do If You Are Interested In an EB-5 Visa

There are a number of benefits to seeking a green card through the EB-5 visa program rather than employment or achievement based green card options. For example, there is no need to show a shortage of U.S. workers qualified to perform your job, you are not required to have a permanent job offer in the United States and you do not need to have an extraordinary ability in business. In addition, the principal investor, the investor's spouse, and their unmarried children can all obtain green cards through the program. But, all investments involve financial risk, and government red tape can make satisfactorily fulfilling the EB-5 visa requirements a challenge.

If you are seeking permanent resident status through the Immigrant Investor Visa Program, or any other method, you should give serious thought to seeking the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney. An attorney familiar with the EB-5 program can protect you from unnecessary financial risk by helping select an appropriate enterprise for your investment, and if possible, can take steps to lower the capital investment amount to $500,000. Moreover, an attorney will be able to guide you through the bureaucratic red tape in filing your application, ensuring a favorable reception by USCIS. If your EB-5 visa application is denied, an immigration attorney will help you appeal the decision in court.

Obtaining an Immigrant Investor Visa can be a trying process. But, with the guidance of a skilled immigration attorney, your application is more likely to go smoothly, and you could be well on your way to permanent resident status in the United States.

The international immigration law firm of Litwin & Smith represents clients throughout the United States and California, Bay Area, San Francisco, Marin County, San Rafael, Sausalito, San Anselmo, Ross, Mill Valley, San Mateo County including San Mateo, Millbrae, San Bruno, South San Francisco, Burlingame, Pacifica, Daly City, Brisbane, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Atherton, San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood City, Foster City, Redwood Shores, Sonoma County, Solano County, Napa County, Alameda County, Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Pleasanton, Livermore, Castro Valley, Fremont, Contra Costa County, Richmond, El Cerrito, Pinole, Martinez, Concord, Walnut Creek, Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Mt. View, Silicon Valley, South Bay, San Jose, Campbell, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Watsonville, Carmel. Beyond California, many clients come to us from surrounding states including Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona and beyond the borders of the United States.