The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has paved the way for thousands of foreign nationals to legally relocate to the United States. Over the last three decades, the program has helped numerous investors obtain U.S. permanent resident status. Compared to many other visa-by-investment programs, the EB-5 program has proven itself as far more efficient. One of the main reasons the EB-5 program is so popular is its comparatively low investment threshold: As of June 22, 2021, the minimum amounts are $500,000 for targeted employment area (TEA) projects and $1,000,000 for non-TEA projects.
Before relocating to the United States permanently, EB-5 investors must acquire conditional permanent resident status. This status can be obtained by filing Form I-526 and receiving approval from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This initial status remains valid for two years. Investors must subsequently apply for permanent resident status by submitting Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
While making an EB-5 investment sounds relatively easy, the various regulations set by USCIS can make it somewhat challenging. This article outlines the main criteria that EB-5 investors must fulfill.
The EB-5 program’s main objective is to reduce unemployment and strengthen the economy. Consequently, an EB-5 investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs (more than 35 hours per week) for qualified U.S. workers. For direct EB-5 projects, only jobs created directly by the new commercial enterprise (NCE) are counted towards fulfilling this requirement. Direct jobs must be on the NCE’s payroll. For regional center projects, induced and indirect jobs also count. These jobs are created by the project’s spending in the locality.
Using Legally Sourced Funds
To prevent the EB-5 program from being misused for fraud, money laundering, or other illegal activities, USCIS requires EB-5 investors to prove that all their capital was sourced lawfully. Legal sources that can be used to fund EB-5 investments include capital from real estate sales, loans, and profits from stock and cryptocurrency sales. To prove the legality of these funds, investors must document their sources in Form I-526.
The evidence required will depend on the source of capital used. For example, if an EB5 investment were made using the investor’s salary payments, the required evidence would include an income certificate and the employment contract.
Using At-Risk Funds
The EB-5 program also places importance on maintaining the at-risk status of the funds. After an EB-5 investment has been made, the funds are treated as the project’s capital; they must be subject to gains and losses.
Even though the guidelines set by USCIS can be demanding, the program’s benefits certainly outweigh the challenges. For EB-5 investors, complying with these guidelines is essential. Foreign nationals should consult an immigration attorney to make sure that they can navigate the EB-5 program’s requirements successfully.