At first glance, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is fairly easy to understand. A foreign national investor chooses a qualified EB-5 project to invest in, creates a minimum of 10 full-time employment opportunities for U.S. workers, and obtains U.S. green cards for themselves and immediate family members. This is why the program has been a popular choice as a path to permanent resident status in the United States since enactment in 1990.
But exactly how much capital does a foreign investor need to bring to a project? It really depends on the project location.
How Much Capital an EB-5 Investor Needs
The minimum amount of capital required of an EB-5 investor seeking to qualify for an EB-5 visa varies based on whether the qualifying project is located in a targeted employment area (TEA).
All projects located outside of a designated TEA require an EB-5 investment of $1.8 million minimum. When an investor selects a project within a determined TEA, the investment requirement is reduced by half (only $900,000).
There are two ways to define a TEA:
- High-unemployment Area – a geographical region with an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average
- Rural Area – a geographical region registering fewer than 20,000 residents
Once a foreign investor has conducted due diligence and selected an EB-5 project, they may initiate the investment process by filing Form I-526.
Alongside personal information, an I-526 petition must provide evidence that the new commercial enterprise (NCE) the EB-5 investor has chosen to invest in has legitimate business potential. Another key component to this petition is providing the proper documentation to prove the capital sources of their investment are lawful.
Common Sources of EB-5 Investment Capital
First and foremost, any legal and sufficiently traceable source of funding is permissible to invest in an EB-5 project. It’s also common for EB-5 immigrant investors to pool funds from various sources to meet the minimum investment requirements.
Here are some of the most common sources of investment capital for EB-5 projects:
- Business income
- Retirement funds
- Salary or wage earnings
- Sale of assets
Another popular source of funding is gifts. Parents often donate EB-5 investment capital to their children, allowing them to seek green cards.
Documentation for this kind of legal funding includes a certified document of the gift transfer stating the recipient is free from any obligation to pay the money back to the donor. This type of sourcing also shifts the responsibility of tracing the funds to the donor.
Working with an Experienced EB-5 Immigration Attorney
It is always advisable for EB-5 investors to work with an EB-5 immigration attorney who has experience gathering the proper capital-sourcing documentation for I-526 petitions.
This process of collecting, tracing, and verifying the proper evidence for your legal source of funds can be complex and time-consuming. Relying on a legal team that knows how to best access and trace resources can significantly expedite an EB-5 investor’s petition.
Allowing an EB-5 attorney to work on your behalf can also simplify your source-of-funds documentation. This often results in simplifying your adjudicator’s workload, potentially reducing processing wait times as well.