The EB-5 program was created by Congress in 1990 to provide permanent resident status for individuals who make qualifying investments. Initially, the program required the investment of $1 million into a new enterprise that would employ at least 10 individuals. In order to attract more investors, Congress created the “Regional Center Program” which makes it much easier to obtain permanent resident status through the investment of a smaller amount of money into a project that is involved in promoting economic development in the United States. To be approved by USCIS, a Regional Center must demonstrate that it is promoting economic growth, improving regional productivity, and/or creating jobs for Americans.
The creation of the Regional Center Program makes it dramatically easier for investors to obtain permanent resident status through the EB-5 program. The individual must invest $500,000 plus certain fees with a Regional Center and maintain the investment for a prescribed number of years (usually three to five years). The investor does not need to create a new business or employ any individuals at all. It is the intention of the Regional Centers to provide a competitive return on the individual’s investment. In exchange for the investment, the applicant receives conditional permanent residence for two years, which can be converted to full permanent residence.
In order to qualify for permanent resident status as an EB-5 investor, an individual must be qualified as an “accredited investor,” which is defined as a person who has individual net worth (or joint net worth with the person’s spouse) that exceeds $1 million at the time of investment. In the alternative, a person can show income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years, or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 in each of the two most recent years, as well as a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year. The individual must also demonstrate that the funds come from lawful sources and that the investor is participating in the Regional Center. Most Regional Center programs are structured as limited partnerships or limited liability companies where the investor is invited to attend meetings of the partnership, but does not have responsibility for the day-to-day management of the project.
There are a number of Regional Centers that have been approved by USCIS. These are located across the United States. It is not necessary for the investor to live in the same area as the Regional Center. The investor’s money is placed in escrow by the Regional Center and is only released if the application for conditional permanent residence is approved. If the application is denied, the funds are returned to the investor.
Palmer Polaski has created a process, and has assembled a team of professionals, to assist individuals in investigating the EB-5 program, selecting the appropriate Regional Center, and preparing and submitting the applications to USCIS. We are working with investors from around the world who want to benefit from this exciting program.