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EB-5 Classification: The Million Dollar Visa

The EB-5 immigrant visa category was created in 1990 for foreign nationals to obtain their green cards by investing a certain amount of on money in the U.S. and creating or saving ten (10) full-time U.S. jobs. The minimum investment amount is $500,000 USD if a foreign national invests in a rural or high unemployment area, frequently referred to as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Otherwise, the minimum investment amount is at least $1,000,000 USD. Under the program, Congress has set aside 10,000 immigrant visas each year for investors and their immediate family members.

An Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was enacted in 1993, which provided for Regional Centers (RC’s) – the program was recently extended until September 30, 2015. It should be noted that 3,000 of the 10,000 immigrant visas allocated to the EB-5 program are set aside for investors who chose to invest in a Regional Center project.

An individual investor must prove that his or her investment has been made in a “New Commercial Enterprise” (NCE). The NCE may be created by an individual investor in one of three ways:

  1. Establishing a brand new business;
  2. Acquiring an existing business and engaging in significant “restructuring or reorganization” – This alternative is rarely used and has not been defined.
  3. Expanding an existing business – This option requires the investor to prove not only the creation of 10 new jobs but also the expansion of either the NCE’s net worth or number of its employees by at least 40%.

NOTE: If an investor invests in a “troubled business” (i.e. a business with losses totaling 20% of net worth), there may be an opportunity to qualify based on preserving existing employees as opposed to adding new ones.