The EB-5 is distinguished from other employment-based immigration in respect of creating jobs in the U.S. instead of seeking employment in the U.S.
To qualify for the EB-5, investment must be at least 1 million dollars. However, the required amount of investment varies depending on the region. An EB-5 investor is allowed to invest a minimum of $ 500,000 to so-called ‘Targeted Employment Areas’ that is either a rural area having a population of 20,000 and more or an area that has experienced high unemployment at least 150 percent of the national average. To prove that the region is a targeted employment area, the applicant for the EB-5 can show the statistics issued from the state.
Another condition for the EB-5 is one must create at least 10 jobs for U.S. citizens or permanent residents from the investment within two years. The spouse and/or children of the EB-5 investor cannot be counted among the number of employees. In addition, 10 employees for the EB-5 must have full-time employment. This condition of creating 10 jobs makes the EB-5 relatively difficult. However, there is an exception for a “troubled business”, which allows the investor to receive the permanent residency by maintaining the existing employees regardless of the number of jobs created. A troubled business is a business enterprise that has been in existence for at least two years and has lost at least 20 percent of net worth of the business. The applicant who invested in a troubled business must demonstrate a business plan and evidence that the current existing number of employees will be kept.
Once the conditions for the EB-5 are met, the applicant can receive a conditional permanent residence valid for two years by filing the applications with the USCIS. The reason behind the conditional permanent residence is to stop abuse in the program as a tool to get a green card without true intent to invest in the U.S. To receive the permanent residency status, the investor must file the I-829 for the removal of the conditional status with the USCIS providing evidence that the investor has invested a minimum of $1 million or $ 500,000 and has hired at least 10 employees in the U.S. The investor can file the application 90 days prior to the expiration of the two-year conditional permanent residency.
The investor may qualify for the EB-5 by investing $1 million or $500,000 in a Regional Center approved by the USCIS. This Pilot Program requires less restrictive conditions for the EB-5 by allowing indirect job creation. However, despite the advantages, the permanent residency through investment in a regional center could be jeopardized by unpredictable economic change or past outcome of the regional center. Thus, it is recommended for investors to research when the center became included in the Pilot program, and whether there have been investors who have received permanent residence through the investment in said center prior to their investment.