When evaluating an EB5 project for program compliance, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is mainly concerned with job creation. Whether purchasing commercial property can be counted as part of an EB5 investment largely depends on its job creating capabilities. Employment generation differs depending on if the investor opts for direct investment or regional center investment. However, both investment models require the creation of at least 10 full-time, permanent jobs. To qualify for the EB5 program, applicants must invest a minimum of $1,050,000 for standard investments or $800,000 for projects located in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs).
Obtaining an EB5 Green Card through purchasing commercial property can be done in two ways: Invest in a real estate-focused regional center or buy a U.S. property and start an EB5 enterprise.
Many EB5 regional centers deal with real estate. Program handlers will deal with groundwork such as reviewing proposed land for construction, land entitlement, development documentation, and overseeing the building process. Some of the properties these centers often invest in include shopping centers, student housing, restaurants, senior living home facilities, and hotel developments. Those who invest in regional centers are granted partial ownership of the EB5 project, meaning they have the opportunity to participate in the profit sharing of the enterprise.
As aforementioned, EB5 investors must meet the minimum investment amount and create enough jobs to qualify for a U.S. Green Card. One way to deal with both requirements is to start a business or invest in an existing business and purchase the real estate on which the enterprise operates. In doing so, the bulk of the investment capital goes towards buying the property, and the remaining funds can be used to meet all other EB5 program requirements.
Purchasing commercial property to count towards the EB5 minimum investment amount is possible. However, investors must demonstrate the connection between the investment and the creation of jobs. EB5 applicants considering this method are encouraged to consult an experienced EB5 immigration attorney to help ensure success.