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Despite the Risks, the EB-5 Visa Program is Still the Best and Fastest Way for Wealthy Foreign Nationals to Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa

Foreign nationals who want to obtain an immigrant visa to live permanently in the United States can apply under any of the following visa programs or categories:

  • Employment-based 1A Visa, also called EB-1A visa or Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference – for those with extraordinary ability in the science, arts, education, business, or athletics;
  • Employment-based 2 Visa, also called EB-2 visa or Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference – for professionals holding an advanced degree or aliens of exceptional ability (this visa category is also appropriate for foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, business, or arts, who will substantially benefit the U.S. economy, cultural or educational interests, or the nation’s ;
  • Employment-based 3A Visa, also called EB-3 or Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3 visa – for foreign nationals ranked as professionals, skilled workers or unskilled workers;
  • Employment-based 4 Visa, also called EB-4 or Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-3 visa – for foreign nationals special immigrant, such as religious workers or special immigrant juveniles (or foreign children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected); or,
  • Immigrant Investor Program, also known as EB-5 visa. This was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign national investors through the creation a new commercial enterprise or investing in a troubled business.

Wealthy foreign national may choose to create a new enterprise, purchase an existing business, or reorganize a former business into a new entity. Minimum amount of investment in this business venture is $1,000,000. They may otherwise invest in an already existing business that is located in an area of severe unemployment. Minimum amount of investment in this business venture is $500,000. Foreign investors who wish to invest their $1 million in a new commercial enterprise must make sure that such enterprise was:

  • Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
  • Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, and that it will be purchased and restructured to form it into a new commercial enterprise, and expand it so that its employees or net worth would increase 40% more than its original (size of employees or net worth).

More wealthy investors, however, prefer investing in a Regional Center, due to the following reasons:

  • Cost of investment in an EB-5 Regional Center is only $500,000;
  • Meeting the “create 10 jobs” requirement becomes the responsibility of the EB-5 Regional Center, making success of meeting this requirement higher, especially if investment is made with a Regional Center that is stable and well-established; and,
  • With the Regional Center responsible in meeting the “create 10 jobs” requirement, the investor can busy himself/herself with other things, like attend a university or practice his/her real profession.

Compared to other employment-based visa programs, the EB-5 visa requirements are easiest to satisfy; processing time is also faster. However, this program is not without risk, the greatest of which are the cost of investment and the probability of failing to meet the “create 10 jobs” requirement. This makes it very important for the foreign nationals to really consider if investing in the U.S. is the best way they can obtain Green Cards for themselves and their families. A business immigration lawyer will be the right person to turn to regarding this very important matter.

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