EB-5 Green Card: Reduced Investment in Targeted Employment Areas

Foreign nationals who invest in a Targeted Employment Area may qualify for an EB-5 visa (and green card) by committing $500,000 - half of the otherwise necessary $1,000,000.

An EB-5 or Investor Green Card allows a foreign national to secure permanent residency by means of investing in a new commercial business inside the United States. The wife or husband along with unmarried children may concurrently apply for their own green cards as derivatives associated with the primary EB-5 applicant.

Basic Eligibility for an EB-5 Based Green Card

The basic conditions to receive this kind of green card are that the investor:

  • Set up a new commercial endeavor, which can be accomplished by:
    • starting up a completely new venture
    • restructuring and also reorganizing a present business to ensure that a new commercial company results, or
    • expanding a pre-existing enterprise.
  • Create ten brand new job opportunities for U.S. citizens or lawful residents eligible for work in the U.S.
  • Commit no less than $1,000,000 to the enterprise; unless the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). In that case, the minimum investment goes down to $500,000. A TEA is described as any rural area (any metropolitan statistical area with a population of less than 20,000) or a location having an unemployment with a minimum of 150% of the average. (At the other end of the spectrum, the U.S. Attorney General has the authority to increase the required investment up to $3 million for any business established inside a “high employment area;” however, this has not yet occurred.)
  • The capital needs to be invested and at risk.
  • An investment has to help the U.S. economy.

For more on general qualifying factors, see Who Can Get an Investment-Based (EB-5) Green Card?

Reduction of Investment to $500,000 - TEA

The investment can either be made directly in an enterprise developed by the foreign national, or by way of a designated "Regional Center." Special regulations apply when the investment is made in an accredited Regional Center. Whenever an applicant invests in a Regional Center, the new commercial enterprise employs ten U.S. employees inside of 24 months.

Investing in an authorized Regional Center does not automatically reduce the necessary investment from $1,000,000 to $500,000, nonetheless the great majority of Regional Centers select projects inside a TEA. Approval as a Regional Center additionally provides an alternative means of fulfilling the job-generation condition. An investment inside a Regional Center venture in a TEA enables an EB-5 candidate to be eligible based on an investment of $500,000.00 while not having to directly employ any U.S. employees provided indirect jobs are generated. On top of that, the Regional Center must make an application for this designation directly from United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and therefore are structured to maximize the chance of an EB-5 Green Card approval (although this is never certain).

Regional Center projects vary enormously in their investing approaches, and also include investments in: property, ski areas, farms, vineyards, and production (among other things). The risks as well as the possible proceeds connected to a Regional Center investment project also vary.

It is crucial to talk to a qualified investment adviser prior to making this expenditure. The adviser can help you decide which (if any) Regional Center business is correct. Your "right" Regional Center project will depend on a number of factors, including the level of risk you deem acceptable, and your desired return; as well as your individual fascination, if any, with the sort of venture.

Any investment within the Regional Center is unlikely to be considered a passive investment. The Regional Center controls the day-to-day facets of the enterprise. This method is of interest to foreign nationals still residing and perhaps working in another country, perhaps lacking the time or language ability to develop and control a U.S. investment.

Steps in the Process

Whether the investor chooses to create his or her own new commercial enterprise or invest through a Regional Center, the application procedure is comparable. Here is a summary of the typical process:

  1. Talk to an immigration lawyer and a financial and/or tax adviser to determine the suitable investment decision along with any tax ramifications.
  2. Sign the proper contracts and place your investment capital within an interest-bearing escrow account.
  3. The investor’s immigration attorney files the I-526 petition and important supporting documents.
  4. After about three to four months, USCIS approves the I-526 (actual processing times might differ).
  5. The petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire.
  6. Service fees and forms will be compiled through the National Visa Center for the foreign national and each associated family member and the case will be transferred abroad for the purpose of an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The consulate approves an immigrant visa.
  7. After immigrant visa approval any immigrant must go into the U.S. within half a year. A conditional green card will be shipped to the investor as well as his or her family.
  8. If investing in a Regional Center, membership certificates will likely be issued in addition to regular statements for the investor. Day-to-day elements of the company tend to be handled by the Regional Center.
  9. One year and nine months after the I-526 was approved the investor must petition to USCIS to eliminate the conditions on the permanent residency. The investor as well as his or her immigration attorney will show how the $500,000 is expended and that ten jobs have already been created. Regional Centers have been preapproved to make this happen and will fulfill this particular requirement.
  10. A new Permanent Residency card is issued after the conditions have actually been removed. (It contains a ten-year expiration date, but this just means that the card must be renewed at that time -- your underlying status will not expire on that ten-year date.)
  11. Five years later the foreign national can apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

For more on the immigration application process, see Applying for an EB-5 Investment-Based Green Card.

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