The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is not for the faint of heart. While the program is an ideal way for foreign nationals to quickly gain permanent resident status and eventual citizenship, the required investment amount can be staggering. The investment requires a minimum capital of $500,000 (or $1,000,000, depending on the project location), which means only wealthy foreign nationals can take advantage of this opportunity.
Most of the individuals who take advantage of this program are either retired or are actively trying to allow their children more opportunities through immigration to the United States. EB-5 investors usually have two main goals: to gain permanent resident status (and many times eventual citizenship) and to get back the capital they invested.
While there are no guarantees in the EB-5 program, through careful planning and exercising caution, investors can optimize their chances of success.
The EB-5 program has two different investment options for interested investors. The first is a direct investment. Through this method, a foreign investor invests directly in a new commercial enterprise, takes an active role in its construction and operation, and is required to create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers that last for at least two years.
The second option is an investment through a USCIS-approved regional center. A regional center collects capital from multiple investors, forms a limited partnership, and then places the investment funds into an approved EB-5 project. This type of investment allows for indirect, induced, and direct jobs to all be counted in the job creation requirement. Most investors choose to go through a regional center due to the lighter burden they carry with regard to project management and the greater number of jobs that can be counted.
The amount of the investment varies as well: for projects located in a designated Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum required amount is $500,000, and it is $1,000,000 for projects outside a TEA.
The Rapid Growth of Regional Centers
The number of USCIS-approved regional centers in the United States has rapidly increased over the past few years. Back in 2008, there were only 20 regional centers across the country. As of today, there are over 170 regional centers in the United States, and over 20 in Florida alone. And the growth is still continuing.
Successfully completed regional center EB-5 projects include hospitals, apartment complexes, shopping centers, hotels, and more.
Rapid Return on Investment
While some investment programs will take many years to give you a return on your investment, that is not the case with the EB-5 program. Investments under this program will generally see a financial return on under five years. There are additional “returns” you will see as well: the opportunity for permanent residency and eventual citizenship and the satisfaction of seeing employment opportunities created as a result of your investment are just two.
Are the Returns Worthwhile?
When deciding whether to enter the EB-5 program, it is important to keep in mind your goal: successful immigration. The return you will see on your investment is generally not going to be substantial. Returns on investments through a regional center are even smaller. However, regional center use increases the likelihood of program success.
Not all regional centers are created equal, however. Potential investors should carefully review a regional center’s history to make sure they have a record of success and adequate experience. Potential investment projects should be evaluated to make sure they are reasonable and likely to succeed. It’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced consultant before making your selection.
While the EB-5 program is not without its risks, EB-5 petitions are far more successful than those submitted through most other immigrant visa programs.