What is the EB-5 Program?
The US Green Card through Investments (EB-5 Program) is currently one of the most popular ways to immigrate to the United States. Compared to other immigration categories, the EB-5 category for foreign investors has many advantages. The EB-5 program allows you to get a green card relatively quickly (the whole process takes 1.5-2 years, sometimes less) and is open to all foreigners. Moreover, the green card is received not only by the investor but also by his family members: spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. It should be noted that other categories of immigration are either associated with a more complex and lengthy process or suggest conditions that are practically impracticable for many who want to move to the United States for permanent residence.
If you do not have relatives in the United States, then you can get a green map of the United States just for three reasons:
- Marriage with a US citizen or marriage with the owner of a permanent green card. This category does not automatically suit those foreign nationals who already have a spouse. By the way, even if you have other relatives in the United States, the process of applying for a residence permit can be delayed for 10-15 years.
- Political asylum. This category is provided only for those foreigners who were persecuted by the state on political or religious grounds or on a national basis in their homeland. Accordingly, this category fits very little.
- Employment. Obtaining a green card in this category can take from 3 to 7 years. This is one of the most difficult areas of US immigration law, which not only involves overcoming many pitfalls but also requires an employer who is willing to sponsor you with a green card in your specialty.
Under the terms of the so-called Standard Program EB-5, a foreign citizen must invest $ 1 million in the US economy (or 500 thousand if the project is in the zone of target employment) and create at least 10 jobs as a result of the implementation of their investment project. In this case, the investor should be directly involved in the management of the enterprise. This version of the EB-5 Program is suitable for a very small number of investors. Despite the attractiveness of the very idea of opening a profitable business in the United States and in addition to getting a green card, in practice, this is associated with great difficulties. The main obstacle is that a foreign investor must be in the United States in order to manage the project (you will hardly find it appropriate to trust someone with your million dollars). And for this, you need to maintain student or work status, which is associated with additional risks and costs for the services of lawyers.
A little later, in 1992, the US Congress established the Pilot Version of the EB-5 Program. The pilot option allows investors to pool capital and invest in large projects through the EB-5 Regional Centers. Each center must be licensed by the US Immigration Service. Typically, the projects of the centers are located in the zones of target employment, so the amount of investment is reduced to 500 thousand. The responsibility for ensuring that the project complies with the terms of the EB-5 Program is borne by the Regional Center. Responsibility for the implementation of the project and the creation of the planned number of jobs is the responsibility of the developer. At the same time, the developer also finances the project at his own expense and through a bank loan for construction. Thus, all parties are equally interested in the successful completion of the project (investors, the Regional Center, the bank and the developer) and this is one of the reasons for the popularity of the Pilot Program EB-5.
What are the benefits of investing in Regional Centers?
- You need to invest only 500 thousand dollars, instead of 1 million.
- Since the Regional Center controls your investment, you do not need to actively participate in the activities of the enterprise. The Regional Center will do that for you.
- If you decide to invest in a regular enterprise, you need to create (or, in the case of buying a loss-making enterprise, save) 10 jobs for citizens and permanent residents of the United States. Only for projects of the Regional Centers, “indirect” workplaces can be added to directly created (“real”) jobs. Since your employees need to buy food, clothes, use certain services for themselves and family members, each newly created “real” workplace indirectly creates additional jobs in the region (“indirect” jobs). Economists have developed special tables that demonstrate the approximate number of indirect jobs that will be created in a particular region for one real work as a result of the implementation of a particular project. Thus, while the requirement of creating 10 jobs remains in force, this can be achieved by combining real and indirect jobs.
- Investing through the Regional Center has a more predictable result and, in fact, less risky for the investor. The most important thing is to choose a reliable Center that has already completed several investment projects and can provide evidence that investors did not receive a waiver from the Immigration Service due to the fault of the Regional Center (that is, due to the project’s inconsistency with the EB-5 Program or unsuccessful project implementation). It is also important that even in case of refusal the Regional Center will return your 500 thousand to you, and you will only lose the administrative fee. If you invest in your own project, then, as in any business, you risk losing all the money if the project "does not go."
Investment process. The procedure for investing in the project of the Regional Center
Today, 95% of foreign investors invest in projects of the Regional Centers.
The investment process consists of the following steps:
- The investor independently or with the help of an immigration lawyer chooses a certain Regional Center and a specific investment project.
- The investor is provided with confidential information regarding the investment project, including a business plan, economic calculations, licenses, a founding partnership agreement with a limited liability company (LimitedPartnershipAgreement), an agreement with a bank for escrow account maintenance (EscrowAgreement), etc.
- After careful consideration of the documentation, the investor makes a decision and officially enters into the number of partners of a new commercial enterprise, and also collects the necessary documents for filing the Petition of a foreign entrepreneur (I-526, Petition by AlienEntrepreneur).
- An investor deposits $ 500,000 plus the Regional Center fee (an average of $ 50,000) in an escrow account of the Regional Center. All project documents are immediately sent to your immigration lawyer and, theoretically, you can submit your first petition on the same day.
- Upon expiration of the first (conditional) green card, the Regional Center provides all documents for submission to the permanent green card. That is why the reliability of the Regional Center plays a decisive role - how responsibly the staff of the center is to control the project and how competently they collect documents confirming the investment process and the fact that jobs have been created depends on whether you get a permanent green card.
- After 5 years have passed since your funds were spent on the project, you receive the invested capital back. Every year during these 5 years you receive an investment return of 1% (i.e. 5,000). The low percentage of income on capital is due to the fact that investments under the EB-5 Program suggest that in exchange for a green card you are ready to accept a lower percentage compared to the profitability of other investment assets in the market. Thus, the program is consistent with the goals of its creation: the implementation of socially useful projects at the expense of cheaper borrowed funds for developers and the creation of new jobs.
Immigration process. The procedure for obtaining a green card investor program EB-5
The procedure for obtaining a green card under the EB-5 Program consists of three stages.
Next, you need to change your current non-immigration status to permanent resident status by submitting an application for change of status to the US Immigration Service (Form I-485 ApplicationtoRegisterPermanentResidenceorAdjustStatus) - if you are in the USA. If you are outside the United States, you need to apply for an immigration visa at the US Consulate in your country of residence. You will receive the green card immediately upon arrival in America. The first green card is issued for 2 years ("temporary" or "conditional" green card). The application process for a green card takes about 6-8 months.
90 days before the expiration of the conditional green card, you will need to apply for the removal of restrictions (Form I-829 Petition by anEntrepreneurtoRemoveConditions). After approval of this petition, you and your family members will receive a permanent green card for 10 years. This green card can either be renewed an unlimited number of times, or you can change the status of permanent resident to the status of a US citizen. Application for citizenship can be submitted after 4 years and 9 months from the date of receipt of the first (conditional) green card.