USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. (Source from USCIS.gov)
EB-5, short for Employment Based Fifth Preference is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990.
This visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area” – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. If the foreign national investor’s I-526 petition is approved, the investor and their dependents (spouse and children under 21 years old) will be granted conditional permanent residence valid for two years. Within the 90 day period before the conditional permanent residence expires, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and that 10 jobs have been maintained, or 10 jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable time period, to become lawful permanent residents.
A Regional Center is defined as any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment. The organizers of a regional center seeking the “Regional Center” designation from USCIS must submit a proposal, supported by economically or statistically valid forecasting tools, showing: how the regional center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States. The proposal must explain how the regional center will promote economic growth in that region.
In 1992, Congress created a temporary pilot program designed to stimulate economic activity and job growth, while allowing eligible aliens the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents. Under this pilot program, foreign nationals may invest in a pre-approved regional center, or “economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment”. Investments within a regional center provide foreign nationals the added benefit of allowing them to count jobs created both directly and indirectly for purposes of meeting 10 job creation requirement. Moreover, Regional Centers are usually associated with a “Targeted Employment Area” (“TEA”), which allows investors to invest $500,000 instead of $1,000,000 to obtain U.S. residency. This is one of the major reasons why many foreign investors choose regional center projects.