Can someone with a salary of less than $200,000 apply for the EB-5 program?

For EB-5 projects sponsored by regional centers, an individual investor must have had a salary of at least $200,000 in the prior two years, and reasonably expect to have the same income in the coming year. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not require potential EB-5 investors to be accredited to invest in a project sponsored by a regional center. However, since EB-5 regional centers operate under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), all regional center operations must abide by SEC regulations. As such, the SEC does require investors to be accredited.

Individuals may qualify as accredited investors by meeting certain financial and professional criteria. For personal criteria, an investor should have a net worth of over $1,000,000—not including the value of their primary residence—or have had an income of at least $200,000 in the last two years. The investor should also reasonably expect to have the same level of income for the upcoming year. If a married couple is investing together, the salary requirement increases to $300,000.

Investors can also qualify as accredited by meeting certain professional criteria:

  • Investment professionals holding Series 7, Series 65, or Series 82 licenses
  • Directors or executive officers of the company selling securities
  • A “family client” of a “family office” that qualifies as an accredited investor
  • Knowledgeable employees of the investment fund

For direct EB-5 investment projects, being an accredited investor is not required. In these scenarios, investors need only invest the full minimum investment amount, which, as of the passing of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of March 2022, is $800,000 for projects located within targeted employment areas (TEAs) and $1,050,000 for projects not located in TEAs.

In addition, investors must ensure that their funds can be traced back to a lawful source and be prepared to submit supporting documentation along with their Form I-526 petition.