As an introduction, I would like to emphasize that, for all questions related to visas, it is essential to consult with an immigration attorney, who is the only one who can provide specific information and advice on that matter.
Iwould like, however, to provide you here-after with a number of general and factual aspects of the EB-5 visa that will enable you to understand and see if this instrument can correspond to your project of coming and installation in the United States.
The EB-5 visa allows a foreigner to immigrate to the United States and obtain the green card in exchange for an investment in an American company.
This “immigrant” visa which leads to the famous “Green Card” also applies to the spouse and children (under 21 years) of the investor.
It was created in 1990 by the US Congress, to facilitate the country’s economic growth and the development of local employment, with the help of foreign investment.
Several conditions must be met to qualify for this visa and obtain the green card:
– invest in a “new” company (creation, but also in some cases possibility to buy an existing company)
– invest $ 1,000,000 or $ 500,000 if the company is located in a targeted employment area (TEA), either in a rural area or in a high unemployment area
– be able to demonstrate the legal origin of the funds
– create 10 full-time jobs per investor.
The investment can be made directly, in his own business project, in which case the investor will also need to have a direct management role. But it can also be done through a “Regional Center” entity, which must be approved by the US Administration (USCIS), and which manages an EB-5 investment project on behalf of the investor. The latter therefore has no obligation to be directly involved in the management of the company.
In any case, the investment, usually blocked for a period of 5 years, must be at risk. If the commercial project does not succeed, the investor may lose all of his funds.
Most EB-5 visas are now done through regional centers on projects located in targeted employment areas (thus with an investment of $ 500,000). A lot of Regional Centers offer projects all over the United States and in different sectors of activity. The most frequent are projects of hotels, restaurants, apartment buildings, but also schools.
In all cases, additional administrative costs, generally between 8 and 12% are expected (and definitely “lost”). Likewise immigration attorney fees, registration fees, as well as other expenses (especially to carry out an accounting and legal due diligence of the project) are also to be taken into account.
At the same time, some projects offer a remuneration of up to 5% or 6%. Others almost nothing. As with any investment, compensation is often risk-related. School projects often offer little or no yield, but may also be a little less risky (longer lease, public support, political pressure that limits the risk of closing a school, etc …). This increases the chances (still without any guarantee) of recovering one’s funds after five years.
The choices of the Regional Center and the project are therefore extremely important and delicate.
The delays associated with the EB-5 visa have greatly increased in recent times, particularly because of the high demand for this type of visa (mainly from Asia, China and Vietnam). It now takes almost two years to obtain a « conditional » Green Card, and another two years for the Green Card to become final.
Today, this EB-5 visa is challenged by part of the US Congress. Many scams have been operated in recent years via this visa system. In addition, the definition of targeted employment areas has also often been interpreted very broadly and often with no real justification. Finally, the investment amounts have never been reassessed since 1990 (and 1993 for the targeted employment areas), so for almost 25 years.
The risk is therefore quite high that the EB-5 visa, or at least some of its characteristics may evolve by the end of the year. This includes raising investment levels (some people talk about $ 1,300,000 and $ 800,000) and tightening the definition of assisted employment zones.
Some members of Congress even want the program to disappear completely. In recent months, the program has been maintained and the dates of possible changes regularly postponed. The next deadline is now December 31, 2017.
It is possible, once again, that nothing changes, but also that new rules apply.
As noted earlier, only an immigration lawyer can accurately advise you on all these issues.