Benefits Remain After Increase in EB-5 Minimum Investment Requirements
It has been almost 30 years since Congress passed legislation creating the EB-5 immigrant visa program to stimulate the economy and create jobs by encouraging foreign investment in commercial enterprises in the United States. The annual allocation of 10,000 EB-5 visas offers foreign investors, entrepreneurs and their families more than a return on their investment. It also offers them a path to becoming a permanent resident. New rules recently went into effect increasing the minimum investment required to obtain an EB-5 visa, but it continues to offer investors and their families the opportunity to live, work and go to school in the U.S.
Investing in America
The EB-5 program was designed to bring foreign investors and their money to the U.S. in order to create jobs for American workers. Under the original eligibility rules for the program, investors needed a minimum of $500,000 to invest in a targeted employment area. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines a TEA as a rural community or other community experiencing high rates of unemployment. Minimum investment of $1 million was required in areas outside of a TEA.
New rules effective November 21, 2019 increase the minimum investment requirement in a TEA to $900,000 and $1.8 million in other areas. Adjustments may be made every five years to the minimum investment requirements to keep pace with the rate of inflation Also changed was the method used to designate someplace as a TEA. Instead of continuing the practice of allowing state and local governments to make the designation, the new rules shift that authority to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The program’s original goal of creating jobs for American workers has remained unchanged. The commercial enterprise invested in by a foreign investor must create at least 10 full-time jobs filled by U.S. citizens or by noncitizens legally authorized to work in this country.
Fast track to permanent residency and other benefits of EB-5 visas
The benefits a foreign investor derives from an EB-5 visa far outweigh the additional investment capital now required of an applicant. Many of the limitations placed on eligibility for other types of immigrant visas do not apply to EB-5 applicants, including:
- No requirement that an applicant be sponsored by a U.S. employer
- No requirement that an applicant possess specialized knowledge and skills
- No requirement that an applicant be from a treaty nation
- No limitations on where a visa holder may live, work or travel within the U.S.
- No requirement that the investor actually participate in the day-to-day operations of the commercial enterprise
Approval of a foreign investor’s application for an EB-5 visa grants the holder conditional status as a permanent resident. Two years after the visa was granted, the investor may request removal of the conditional status upon proof that all program conditions, including the creation of 10 full-time employment positions for U.S citizens or for non-citizens authorized to work in this country, have been met. A person may then apply for U.S. citizenship five years after being granted permanent resident status.
Foreign investors approved for EB-5 visas may be accompanied to the U.S. by their spouse and children or stepchildren younger than 21 years of age who also receive conditional permanent residency. Removal of the conditions on the investor’s status as a permanent resident also removes them for family members who accompanied the visa holder.
The children, stepchildren and spouse of the visa holder have no restrictions placed on their ability to travel within the U.S. They also have the ability to travel internationally without having needing to obtain a visa to reenter the U.S.
Children may attend public schools, including colleges and universities and to receive the same tuition benefits granted to other residents of the state in which they live. The investor and family members may work within the U.S. without having to obtain work visas.
EB-5 program offers flexibility
A foreign investor can take advantage of the benefits offered by the EB-5 program without being required to apply for U.S. citizenship. Investors and their family members accompanying them may retain their permanent resident status simply by applying to renew it every 10 years. An immigration attorney can offer legal advice and guidance about the process and answer questions about the EB-5 program.