Employment Based Permanent Residence, EB-5 Business Investors—A Passing Look

Employment Based Permanent Residence Visa, is more commonly known as an EB-5 (Business Investors). Before the 1990 Act of Immigration, a foreign immigrant was not eligible to acquire PR based on investment no matter how large the investment was. The visa was introduced with the aim of benefiting the national economy and to create fresh employment opportunities across the country. It is the easiest passage for those who wish to acquire US Permanent Residency (Green Card).

Annually, nearly 10,000 visas are granted to qualified applicants inclined to acquire PR on the basis of their new commercial venture. The major plus point of the category is that it neither asks for an American Employer nor requires you to obtain a Labor Certification. The complete visa processing may roughly take one year, and primary applicant may bring his family members along as a conditional permanent resident for a minimum period of two years.

What is the minimum amount to be invested to acquire a visa under EB-5 category?

The category is reserved for foreign investors who wish to make an investment of minimum US $1 million in a project (commercial) capable of creating fresh employment opportunities for at least 10 US employees. If the investors wish to make an investment, either in rural areas or Targeted Employment Area (TPT), the investment amount is reduced to US $500,000.

What is Targeted Employment Area (TPT)?

It is a geographical area (rural area) that has 150% unemployment rate of the total national average rate. Each state is authorized to designate different geographical areas within the states that may be regarded as TPT. According to a survey conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), almost 30% of the Permanent Residence under foreign Investors Class is strictly reserved for unemployed targeted areas.

There are two different ways for obtaining PR as an immigrant investor which are as follow:

1. Traditional EB-5 Programme

  • The investor must be ready to make an investment of at least US $1 million in a commercial enterprises, or US $500,000 if the investment is made in the TPT.
  • Invested amount has to be legally obtained.
  • Investment is made either in a troubled business venture or in a new commercial enterprise which will create new employment opportunities.
  • Commercial enterprise must be able to create new full-time employment opportunities for at least 10 US workers. Some relaxation has been given to those investing in ‘troubled businesses’.
  • Investor must have an experience of managing the enterprise either he was active in policy formation or in a day-to-day managerial activity.

2. Regional Center Pilot Programme

In the yearly 90s, the National Congress introduced a Regional Center Pilot Program (EB-5). It allowed the USCIS to entitle qualified prospective immigrants as Regional Centers who are eligible to accept EB-5 amount. It’s a private or government enterprises with a planned investment programme. The scheme has been successfully administered in multiple countries, like India, Canada, Australia, etc. It successfully grants nearly 3,000 PR annually to applicants who make an investment in regional centers. Since the programme was first introduced in the early 90s, it has been renewed many times, and the latest expiry date is September 30, 2015.

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