Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program or EB-5 Program in 1990 in order to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and investment by foreign investors. In addition, they enacted a pilot immigration program in 1992 for investors in Regional Centers. The Regional Centers are designated by USCIS, and are based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
In order for an applicant to qualify under the Immigrant Investor Program, three basic requirements must be met:
- The Investment must be in a New Commercial Enterprise. Any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business such as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership (whether limited or general), Holding Company (and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business), Joint Venture, Corporation, and Business Trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned. (Does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.)
- This does include troubled businesses that have been in existence for at least two years and have incurred a net loss during the 12 or 24 month period prior to the immigrant investor’s priority date. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. Successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
- The Investment Amount must be at least $1 million (or $500,000 in certain cases). However, $500,000 is acceptable if the business is situated in a “targeted” employment area, i.e., an area that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate, or a rural area. (Investment capital cannot be borrowed.)
- The Investment must contribute to Job Creation or Job Preservation for at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers (citizens and permanent residents) within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
- These jobs may be either Direct jobs, actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital or Indirect jobs, actual identifiable jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of the capital invested in the commercial enterprise affiliated with a Regional Center by an immigrant investor. (A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a Regional Center.)