What Does It Take To Qualify For an EB-5 Entrepreneur/Investor’s Visa?

There’s no denying that immigration is a hot button issue in America today.  But almost everybody agrees that creating jobs in America and boosting its economy are beneficial outcomes, so federal law allows qualified entrepreneurs or investors to obtain “EB-5” visas to come to America to develop their businesses.

Who qualifies for an Investor’s Visa?

There are three basic ways to qualify for an EB-5 Entrepreneur/Investor’s Visa:

  • Invest at least $1 million directly in a new commercial venture
  • Invest at least $500,000 in a “targeted employment area”
  • Invest at least $500,00 in a “regional center business”

Additionally, this investment must be expected to create or preserve at least 10 American jobs.

What is Direct Investment?

To qualify under the direct investment category, investors will need to contribute at least $1 million to a “new commercial enterprise” and assume an active managerial role in that enterprise.  According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, commercial enterprises can include:

  • Business trusts
  • Sole proprietorships
  • Joint ventures
  • Partnerships
  • Holding companies
  • Corporations

Additionally, to meet the 10-job requirement, direct investors must be the actual employer of 10 full-time employees. 

What is a Targeted Employment Area?

Targeted employment areas are regions where unemployment is especially high (at least 150% of the national average), so the government wants to encourage maximum economic growth.  In order to facilitate investment into these areas, EB-5 visas are available to investors who are able to contribute only half of what investors in other areas would be required to contribute ($500,000). 

What is a Regional Center Business?

Indirectly investing in a regional center business is the most common type of EB-5 qualification.  As of July of 2017, there are 851 regional centers available under the EB-5 program.  Like targeted employment areas, the regional centers are areas where the government wants to stimulate economic growth.  Through the regional centers, entrepreneurs who are able to contribute at least $500,000 can invest it indirectly through a regional center business, which is a business or other commercial enterprise within the area that has registered with the Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Where investors in businesses in targeted employment areas must take active roles in creating a new business, investors in regional center businesses generally take more of a passive financier’s role.

How do I apply for an EB-5 Visa?

The application for an EB-5 Entrepreneur/Investor’s Visa is complicated.  To begin, you’ll need to file a form called an I-526, an “Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.”  With this form, you’ll be required to prove to the Citizenship and Immigration Services that you meet all of the requirements for the visa.  This includes requirements such as:

  • Proof that the business you’re investing in qualifies as a “new commercial enterprise;”
  • Proof that the business is within a qualified Targeted Employment Area (if applicable);
  • Proof that you have an active managerial role within the new company;