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Understanding the EB5 Visa Program

22nd December 2010
By Stanley Hermosillo in Immigration Law
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The United States of America is oftentimes referred to as the “Land of Opportunity,” and is a top choice among the world's nations for people looking to emigrate. In 2008 alone, more than one million foreign people became US citizens. Unfortunately, many United States immigrants report the citizenship process as being time-consuming, confusing and difficult. For foreign nationals looking to cement their future in the United States, participating in the EB5 visa program may often be the best choice. This article will describe the EB5 Visa Program in greater detail.

The Eb5 Visa Program is an immigrant investor program, and is one of several ways foreign nationals can gain permanent legal authorization to live and work in the United States of America (also known as a Green Card Visa). One of the main complaints about the United States' immigration policy is that allowing immigrants to live and work in the country takes jobs away from existing citizens and residents. The EB5 visa program is designed to offset that job loss by having eligible immigrants actually stimulate the US economy.

The EB5 program is structured so that immigrants can invest money into the USA, which will create new American jobs. To qualify for EB5 program, an immigrant investor must be able to invest at least $500,000 into certain investments or regional areas with high unemployment rates. The invested funds must translate to the creation of at least 10 jobs for the immigrant to be given a green card visa. The $500,000 rate is applicable for rural areas, and those with a demonstrated need for jobs. For more populated areas, the required funds to participate in the Immigrant Investor Visa increases to $1,000,000. In return for this investment, the immigrant investor will be granted a two-year conditional citizen's status.

In addition to the monetary component, the EB5 visa program bears some benefits that may differ from other means of immigration to the United States. For example, the EB5 green card visa also makes immigrant investors' spouses and minor children (under age 21) legal permanent residents, without separate fees, filings, or other difficulties. Unlike many other types of citizenship, the EB5 Program requires no sponsorship. Since an immigrant investor is using his or her own funds to immigrate, no funds are required from employers or family members.

23 US states currently have approved Regional Centers for the EB5 visa program, as does Washington, D.C.. While states such as Arizona allow immigrant investment across the state, others (such as California) only permit immigrant investors to contribute in specific geographic areas. Some states also place restrictions on what types of businesses immigrant investors can participate in. For example, Vermont allows immigrant investors to contribute to industries such as ski tourism and information technology (IT). Since immigrant investor program members are required to maintain involvement with the industries they invest in, it's a good idea to check in advance and make sure your selected industry is accepted in the state you hope to live in.
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