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Who Qualifies as an EB-5 Investor?

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on September 03, 2013

The EB-5 investor visa is a business-based immigration tool for foreign nationals with significant investments in the United States. Created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, the EB-5 visa is available for investors who invest a minimum amount of capital in a U.S. business.

Qualifications for EB-5 Investor Status

In order to qualify for the EB-5 investor visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • The foreign national applicant must invest at least $ 1 million in a new commercial enterprise (or $500,000 in a targeted area in a United States).
  • The commercial enterprise receiving the investment funds must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission into the United States.
  • The commercial enterprise receiving the investment funds must have been established after November 29, 1990.  If the commercial enterprise was established on or before November 29, 1990, it may still qualify as a “new commercial enterprise” if (i) it was purchased and the existing business was restructured or reorganized so that a new commercial enterprise results, or (ii) it expanded through the investment such that a 40% increase in net worth or number of employees resulted.

Alternate Qualification Requirements for Regional Centers

Some foreign investors may be eligible for an EB-5 visa with a $500,000 investment, provided that the investment is made in one of the Regional Centers designated by the United States Customs and Immigration Services as an area in need, based on policy proposals for promoting economic growth by creating 10 or more jobs directly or indirectly.

The following Regional Centers are located in Illinois:

  • Blue Ribbon Regional Center, LLC
  • Chicago Healthcare Fund Regional Center
  • Chicago Metro Regional Center, LLC
  • Chicago Regional Center
  • Chicagoland Foreign Investment Group (CFIG) Regional Center
  • Green Card Gateway Regional Center
  • Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago
  • LaSalle County Business Development Center (LCBDC)
  • Local Government Regional Center of Illinois
  • New Fortune Global LLC
  • Northern Illinois Regional Center
  • US HITEC Regional Center

Advantages to EB-5 Investor Visa

Some advantages of the EB-5 investor visa include:

  • Foreign nationals with significant assets who can demonstrate that they are in the process of investing the funds in a for-profit business can obtain a visa without business training in the United States.
  • The EB-5 investor visa is available to applicants from all countries, though the USCIS is a bit more suspicious of applicants from countries with a pattern of fraudulent applications.
  • Applicants can invest their money in a business located anywhere in the U.S.
  • An EB-5 investor’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can obtain green cards as accompanying relatives.

Disadvantages of EB-5 Investor Visa

Some disadvantages of the EB-5 investor visa include:

  • EB-5 investors must live in the United States.
  • Your green card will initially be only conditional. In other words, it will expire in two years, after which you will need to apply to renew it and make it permanent.
  • The EB-5 investor visa can be difficult to obtain due to strict eligibility requirements.

Because of the specific and stringent requirements of the EB-5 investor visa, it is highly recommended that applicants consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer. The Chicago immigration attorneys at the Shapiro Law Group focus on helping businesses, investors, and families with all of their immigration and visa needs.  Contact our office at (847)564-0712 to speak with an experienced Illinois employment immigration attorney about the EB-5 investor visa.