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EB-5 Green Card: $500,000 Investment versus Traditional EB-5 as Entrepreneur


What is the EB-5 investor visa program?

Created in the 1990s by the U.S. Congress, the EB-5 investor visa program allows eligible applicants to qualify for legal permanent residence, or a “green card,” by investing in an American business. The entire investment must come from the applicant alone, who is required to submit evidence that the sum comes from a lawful source. Immigrant investors wishing to immigrate to the United States are required to fill out Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, instructions for which can be found here.

After the Form I-526 petition is approved, an applicant may either file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”); or file DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State.

Regional center investment

The EB-5 investor visa program allows for investments as low as $500,000 when the business is located within a Targeted Employment Area (“TEA”) or a “regional center,” defined as a rural area or an urban area with an unemployment rate that is 150% of the national average. A regional center is a legal entity, organization, or municipal or state agency designated as such and approved by the USCIS that creates American jobs. Potential immigrant investors should be careful to scrutinize a regional center, because they are required to make an equity investment (i.e., purchase the company’s shares) and place their investment at risk of partial or total loss if the business is unsuccessful.[1]

Noncitizens can qualify for permanent residence based on their investment into these regional centers, which seek to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment. Investing in a regional center include the following advantages:

  • Only half the usual $1 million investment required for traditional entrepreneurs
  • Investors are not required to actively manage the company or investment
  • Presumption of creation of 10 additional jobs
  • Streamlined process for obtaining a green card, as regional centers are already designated and approved by the government for EB-5 investors

Direct Investment

The EB-5 investor visa program allows entrepreneurs, and their spouses and unmarried children under 21, to apply for a green card if they:

  • Make a necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States
  • Plan to create ten or more permanent jobs

As opposed to investing in a regional center, direct investment requires a larger investment, active management of the enterprise, does not warrant a presumption of creation of ten full-time jobs, and may have longer processing times for obtaining a green card. However, the advantage of controlling your investment is largely appealing to some immigrant investors.

Owing to the relatively large financial stakes involved, it is always a good idea to consult a business savvy immigration expert before applying for the EB-5 investor visa program.

Why Having an Immigration Attorney is Crucial

The immigration process is complicated, and individuals who attempt to take on immigration law alone have the potential to harm their case. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the application process and help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation related to your case. Having an attorney on your side can increase the chances of getting your waiver application approved.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with immigration waivers, our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help. Contact Yekrangi & Associates at (949) 478-4963 for more information about how we can help you with all your immigration needs.

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