WHAT IS THE EB-5 PROGRAM?
Based on the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990 and the subsequent creation of the EB5 (Investor Visa) Program in 1992 by the U.S. Congress, foreign nationals were already – literally – receiving a green signal (or better, “green card”) to reside legally in the U.S. through investments in the U.S. economy.
In principle, the minimum amount for investment was significant: $1 million and the investor had to open a business and directly employ a minimum of 10 American employees in order to qualify. In addition, despite all this, the investor only received a “visa” for residence as long as he maintained his investment or business in the US.
In the next opportunity, the government approved a second version of the program for projects established in areas with higher unemployment rates than the country’s average and in need of incentives or new investments for the generation of new jobs. Such areas came to be called “Targeted Employment Areas”.
For these areas, the American government – strategically – approved the minimization of the requirements to obtain the green card (under the EB5 Program) for foreigner nationals who invest in projects that will generate jobs. For those areas and projects, the investment value was reduced by half ($500,000) and the investor does not need to open any business or directly generate the 10 jobs, only invest in projects as a shareholder or lender for 2 years (from the date of the issuance of his conditional green card).
During the 2-year period in which the investor must maintain his investment, he and his immediate family (spouse and children under the age of 21) receive a “conditional” green card valid for 2 years. If the invested project generates (or maintains) a minimum of 10 jobs during the 2 years, the investor and his family receive a permanent green card.
What projects or developments qualify the investor for the EB5 Program?
There is no limitation on industry or type of business. Any commercial development that generates jobs for new or existing businesses in need of a financial incentive may qualify for the EB5 program.
There are currently 2 categories of Projects that qualify for the EB5 Green Card Investor Program:
1) Direct Investment: The project is in a target area for the creation of new jobs (TEA – Targeted Employment Area) and/or
2) Investment through a Regional Center: The project is inserted in a “cluster of projects” created under the so-called “Regional Centers” (whose main objective is to create new jobs).
Advantages for the Investor:
Approximately 18-30 months (subject to USCIS productivity) after the petition is submitted to the Dept. of Immigration, the foreign investor, spouse and unmarried dependents under the age of 21 (if approved), receive a conditional green card valid for 2 years. After that period, the family receives the permanent green card after having presented proof that all requirements were met, namely:
- The investment was held for a minimum period of 24 months (from the date of issuance of the conditional green card).
- 10 jobs were generated or maintained (or will be generated within a reasonable period of time).
After 3 years, the investor and family may apply for U.S. citizenship and enjoy all the benefits of a U.S. citizen.
Requirements for Investor approval under the EB5 Program:
It is sufficient for the investor to provide evidence that the money invested is from legal and identifiable sources, has no criminal record, and that the amount invested has generated (or will generate in a reasonable time) at least 10 jobs for U.S. citizens.
In addition, candidates undergo a physical examination to detect the presence of terminal or contagious diseases, such as HIV, for example.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EB-5 PROGRAM:
- When and by whom was the EB-5 visa program created?
The EB-5 program was created in 1990 under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The program allows non-U.S. born citizens (who meet the applicable legal requirements) to seek permanent resident status based on a financial investment in the U.S. economy.
- How many EB-5s can be issued per year?
10,000 EB-5 visas are available to qualified foreign nationals each year.
3. How does the EB-5 visa differ from an L-1 (executive transfer) visa?
With an EB-5 visa you acquire the Green Card for permanent residence in the United States. After 5 years, investors and their family members can obtain U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet the requirements of the Immigration Services. Other visas, such as the L-1, may not guarantee permanent residency to their holders, have limitations of stay and/or must always be renewed, and require additional filings with the USCIS or Department of State.
- Who can get a green card through the EB-5 Program?
Any person who can prove that he or she has the ability to invest the necessary amount in the U.S. economy and who can prove that the capital was legally obtained and satisfies the general eligibility requirements (e.g., background check and medical requirements) is able to apply for this Visa. The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age also qualify. The age of the minor children is “frozen” at the time of the EB-5 petition via Form I-526 so that, for example, a 20 year old dependent does not become ineligible during the USCIS analysis process.
- What is the lowest investment value required?
An investment of at least $1 million is required to obtain an EB-5 visa. However, if the investment is made in a location that is designated as a TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA (TEA), then the minimum investment is $500,000. With this amount, 10 (ten) jobs must be generated for a period of 2 (two) years.
- Will the value of my investment be returned if my EB-5 Visa application is denied by USCIS?
Many projects maintain a reserved line of credit to guarantee that, in the event that your petition is denied, your money will be returned within a period to be stipulated in the final contract between the parties.
- How long will my Green Card be valid?
The investor and his/her dependents initially receive a 2-year Green Card, called “Conditional”. Prior to the end of the 2 year period, an application will be submitted to USCIS, confirming that the investment was made and that ten jobs were created as a result of the investment. Once the 10 jobs are maintained for two years, a permanent Green Card will be issued to the investor and his or her family.
- If I am or a family member is already in the U.S. on another visa when the I-526 petition is approved, do I need to return to my home country in order to obtain an EB-5 or permanent resident visa?
Not necessarily. In order to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. under the EB-5 program, it may not be necessary to return to the country of your citizenship. You and your family members may only petition to adjust status in the U.S. if you were in valid nonimmigrant status (tourist visa, for example).
- How long does it generally take to process the I-526 petition?
The time has varied greatly – between 18 and 36 months in some cases.
- Where can I find more information about the EB-5 Visa?
Visit the USCIS website: www.uscis.gov and search for “EB-5”.
- Do I have to be a college graduate to get a Green Card through the EB-5 Program?
No. There are no school requirements for investors in the EB-5 Program.
- Do I need to have special business experience?
No. There are no business experience requirements for investors in the EB-5 Program.
- What if I am not fluent in English?
There are no English fluency requirements for investors in the EB-5 Program.
- Do I need to have earned the money myself for the EB-5 investment?
No. For example, the money can be a donation, inheritance or a loan backed up with a collateral. The only requirement would be to prove that the money was legally obtained, not only by you, but also by whoever donated and/or passed it on and that taxes (if applicable) were paid in the Country of origin. Another example would be to use the proceeds from the sale of real estate and/or the return of a previous investment.
- Can I apply for a green card through EB-5 if I have already been denied for a previous visa to the U.S.?
If you have previously received a denial for a U.S. visa, you can still apply for the EB-5.
- Can qualified individuals from any country apply or are there restrictions based on an EB-5 candidate’s original citizenship?
With the exception of individuals from countries with which the U.S. does not maintain diplomatic relations, citizens of any country may apply for permanent residency in the U.S. through the EB-5 investment program.
Provided that the applicant is able to leave his or her home country and has sufficient investment capital, a qualified immigration attorney can assist the applicant with the EB-5 process.
- What is the most common reason for an EB-5 denial?
In most cases, when an EB-5 petition is denied, the applicant failed to demonstrate that he (or she) had a lawful source for the capital with which he (or she) wishes to make the investment.
- What other requirements are there for EB-5?
To obtain a green card through the EB-5 program, as with any other U.S. visa, the applicant and accompanying family members must meet all requirements (e.g., background check and medical requirements) stipulated by U.S. immigration laws.
TIMELINES FOR THE IMMIGRATION PROCESS:
Below are the estimated timelines for the process of obtaining an American green card through the EB-5 Program:
- The Investor signs the contract and sends it scanned by e-mail to the chosen project.
- The Investor wires to the company the amount of the investment + the administrative and processing fees for all applicants (family members).
The Company signs the contract and confirms that the funds have been received.
The immigration attorney sends the Investor the forms to be filled out and the list of documents needed to file the petition.
The Investor e-mails the completed forms to the attorney.
The Investor and the attorney maintain e-mail contact to complete and finalize the application process.
In case the Investor has submitted all the requested documents, the application is forwarded to USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services).
USCIS records the application and issues a receipt number (for tracking purposes).
- Investor and family follow the guidance received by the attorney and/or USCIS (e.g., perform medical exams and register digitals).
- The Investor receives approval from the USCIS and receives a conditional green card for him/herself and family members.
We know that there must be many more questions than the ones presented in this publication, therefore we are available to answer other questions you may have. We will try to consult our partners and legal, tax and immigration consultants in case they are very specific.
We can also help you select the best project for your investment. One of our consultants licensed by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) and registered by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) will present you with the best options, which have passed our rigorous evaluation process.
Please email us at: [email protected] or call us at: +1 (954) 325-2625
WHAT IS OUR ROLE IN YOUR IMMIGRATION TO THE U.S.?
Florida 360 Investments & Realty, LLC, a South Central Florida based Real Estate, Business and Investment Consulting Firm for Immigration purposes, is offering free advice on several fronts.
Understanding that investment and immigration processes require first of all a good planning, in addition to several aspects and measures, Florida 360 made several partnerships with companies, specialized professionals and financial institutions in order to offer its clients the following support:
- Legal advice for immigration issues (Portuguese and Spanish speaking immigration lawyers)
- Legal, tax and accounting advice for tax issues (Latin American countries and USA), currency transfer, re-organization of assets in any country, opening of companies, among others.
- Banks and financial institutions to obtain financing for the purchase of real estate for living or investment purposes.
- Licensed financial investment consultants.
FLORIDA 360 INVESTMENTS & REALTY, LLC
Miami – Weston – Fort Lauderdale – Delray Beach – Orlando
Tel: +1 (954) 449-2529
Tel: +1 (954) 325-2625+1 (attention in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Whatsapp)
E-mail: [email protected]
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