March 08, 2012

I will discuss the EB-5 category, which provides an opportunity to obtain green card through investment at my following few articles. 

According to the immigration laws of the U.S., an investor can apply for a green card for him/herself and her/his family members by investing $1,000,000 to a business venture. The amount of investment is lowered to $500,000 at urban areas and at targeted employment areas where unemployment rates are high. By this procedure, 10,000 investors are allowed to obtain green cards every year. In the 2009 fiscal year, 4,192 investors and their family members obtained permanent residency through the EB-5 category. Thus, investor and the family members can live anywhere they want in the US, and investor’s minor children can benefit from the resident school tuitions. 

There are two investment methods in the EB-5 category. First method is to invest money in investor’s own business. The investment can be either made to a new company, or by purchasing the shares of a company that is already in existence. In the second method, the investor would invest the capital to a specific project at a Regional Center. Regional Center is a public or private establishment to contribute to the economy, increase production, create opportunities for work, and to create investment opportunities. Regional Centers require approval from the USCIS. Currently, there are around 80 regional centers in the U.S. Regional centers have various different projects that investors might be interested. A few examples for regional center projects would be; construction of a museum building, a versatile bus stop that includes shopping stores; or construction of a mall, …etc. It is important to note that only Regional Centers, not specific projects are approved by the USCIS. There is no such thing as a USCIS approved investment project. Therefore, a specific investment project offered by a Regional Center should be considered as any other investment opportunity in the business world.

If the USCIS approves the immigrant visa application, USCIS will issue 2 year conditional green cards to the investor and his/her family members (spouse and children under 21). During these 2 years, investor has all the rights of a green card holder. At the end of this 2 year period, another application should be filed with the USCIS in order to remove the conditions of the residence. The main requirement to obtain a green card in this category is that a minimum of a 10 full time employees must be employed through this investment in a specific time period.  If the USCIS decides that this requirement is fulfilled by the investor in that time period, USCIS will issue green cards to the investor and his/her family members.

In my next article, I will try to compare advantages and disadvantages of personal investments and regional center investments.