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EB-5 Investor Options

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on September 20, 2014

For those businesses looking to gain capital and those foreign nationals seeking a visa, the EB-5 visa could be an immigration option to suit both of their needs. The EB-5 investor program works by linking U.S. businesses that want to raise capital with foreign investors seeking a U.S. visa. The EB-5 visa program was created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, and is available for investors who invest a minimum amount of capital in a U.S. business.

Requirements for EB-5 Visa Qualification

In order to qualify for the EB-5 investor visa, the business investment must meet one of the following requirements:

  • The foreign national applicant must invest at least $ 1 million in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 new jobs for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents within two years of the investor’s admission into the United States.
  • The foreign national must invest $500,000 in a Regional Center in a targeted area in a United States.
  • The foreign national must invest at least $500,000 in a commercial enterprise in a targeted employment area, which is a rural of less than 20,000 residents or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150% of the national average.

Furthermore, the business receiving the investment funds must have been established after November 29, 1990.  If the business 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.

What Should Business Do to Attract EB-5 Investment Funds

Businesses looking to access EB-5 financing should:

  • Determine whether the project meets the requirements of the EB-5 program.
  • Contact one or more regional centers in the geographic location of the project to discuss the terms of a possible project.
  • Contact one or more foreign marketing agents. Some regional centers will provide marketing efforts as part of their EB-5 financing, but many do not. The foreign marketing agent will seek interested foreign investors for a fee.
  • Prepare offering documents for the EB-5 financing. Since most EB-5 financings involve the sale of securities, they must comply with applicable securities laws and regulations, including Regulation D (for private offerings of securities) and Regulation S (for offshore offerings of securities).
  • Prepare foreign offering documents. The regional center or foreign marketing agent often assists with this process.
  • Market the project in the applicable foreign country.
  • Upon receipt of a subscription agreement and investment funds from the foreign investor, the business owner will commence the immigration process of obtaining an EB-5 visa by filing an I-526 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • After the project is complete, each EB-5 investors will be required to file an I0829 visa application within two years of the date that he or she received his or her conditional visa.

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.

Contact an Immigration Lawyer

Due to specific and strict requirements of the EB-5 investor visa, it is highly recommended that businesses and investors considering the EB-5 investment visa 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.