EB-5 Program Overview
Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category in 1990 for qualified foreigners seeking to invest in a business that will benefit the U.S. economy and create or save at least 10 full-time jobs. The basic amount required to invest is $1 million, although that amount is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a rural or high unemployment area. Of the approximately 10,000 EB-5 green cards available each year, 3,000 are reserved for foreign nationals who invest through a Regional Center.
The EB-5 Regional Center Investment Program
To encourage immigration through the EB-5 program, Congress created a pilot program in 1993. The program specifically sets aside 3,000 visas annually for foreign investors who apply through a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated Regional Center Investment Program.
A Regional Center is a private enterprise, corporation, or a regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region. The Regional Center program in many ways mirrors long active and successful investment-employment based programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other foreign nations.
An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must generally make a qualifying investment of $1 million and demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment. Certain rural, high unemployment or Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) qualify for a lesser capital investment of $500,000. Texas Investment Regional Center focuses solely on qualifying projects within targeted employment areas, hence allowing EB-5 investors to get involved with only $500,000 investment amount.
An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must also demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment. Texas Investment Regional Center utilizes a USCIS approved model to measure and verify a qualifying project’s required job creation. All projects offered through Texas Investment Regional Center must pass a strenuous evaluation process to ensure it meets USCIS job creation requirements.
Before participating in a Regional Center EB-5 investment program, each investor independently petitions USCIS for an EB-5 visa. Qualified investors investing through a Regional Center receive a conditional green card valid for two years. The investor, spouse and unmarried children (under age 21 at the time of petition) can then apply for permanent residency based on their investment. Once approved, the investor and his immediate family become permanent green card holders and can later apply to become U.S. citizens. Upon receipt of conditional permanent resident status, the investor and immediate family are entitled to the same benefits as other lawful permanent residents.