This is the first of a four-part series.
Investors around the world put their hard-earned cash into the US every day, be it US stocks, bonds or real estate. Increasingly, people are investing for something more valuable and long lasting: US citizenship.
Since 1990, the US government has allowed foreigners with cash to jump the line for a green card through the EB-5 program, but the program didn't gain momentum until the past few years.
Basic Requirements and Benefits for EB-5
The requirements are simple: invest $1 million (or $500,000 if in a high unemployment or rural area) into a new or troubled business and create or save 10 full-time jobs.
The benefits are many: expedited green card for the entire family including children under 21 (even for China or India born applicants), ability to live and work anywhere in the US, travel in and out of the US without a visa, free public school for children, resident cost at state universities, and ability to sponsor green card for relatives.
Why is EB-5 gaining popularity?
The task of creating a successful business plan, executing the plan, and running the business successfully enough to create 10 FT jobs without losing the investment can be extremely daunting, especially for someone contemplating this abroad. The reason EB-5 is really taking off these days is investors now have the option of investing into an EB-5 Regional Center, which takes the operational challenges off the table.
A Regional Center (RC) is an USCIS approved business entity operating within the EB-5 program to allow multiple investors to invest into the RC and enable it to finance its business objectives. For example, a real estate developer may set up a RC to accept 20 EB-5 investors to sign on as limited partners, which provide $10M in capital (if in a high unemployment area) for a real estate development project.
Although RC investors cannot be mere passive investors technically, the management duties are very limited and investors need not reside near the location of the business or project.
EB-5 is also gaining popularity because the required investment of $1M (or $500K) is much less of a hurdle than it was a few years ago, particularly with countries like China and India minting new millionaires while the US Dollar depreciates against their currencies. Last but not least, due to the stubbornly high rate of employment in the US, the government and USCIS are more supportive of the EB-5 program than ever before.
Coming in part 2, 3 & 4 of this series
In the upcoming months, ILG will provide more details about RC investing, time-frames for obtaining EB-5 conditional green cards and permanent green cards, annual limit/cap to EB-5 green cards, and introduce specific Regional Center opportunities.