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6 Things To Know About Immigrating Via
An EB-5 Investment Visa


By EB-5 Attorney Shae Armstrong

The Employment-Based fifth visa has enabled thousands of foreign investors a right of passage into the United States along with simultaneously allowing them to capitalize financially with investment projects to jump-start U.S. economic growth.

1)      HISTORY

The original EB-5 Program was established 1990 under the premise that each immigrant investor must create at least 10 real, full-time jobs for U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents that were at least 35 hours a week at or above the minimum wage level.   However, in 1992, Congress enacted the Regional Center Program attempting to popularize it in the hopes of meeting the 10,000 immigrant investor visa limit allocated to the EB-5 immigration category.  Under the Regional Center approach, developers were afforded the right to count indirect and induced jobs towards the total 10 job requirement. 


The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) defines indirect jobs as those held by persons who work outside the newly established commercial enterprise. These indirect jobs are not actual jobs but are derived from forecasted economic impact studies that determine the economic ripple effect in which a project has on its community. For example, although a $50 million dollar apartment complex may only result in 10 actual full time jobs such as leasing agents, maintenance workers, and building managers, the developer may obtain credit for hundreds of indirect jobs derived from the economic stimulation in which the project offers to the surrounding area.  

3)      $500,000 vs. $1,000,000 EB-5 INVESTMENT

To obtain an EB-5 visa, immigrant investors must invest at least $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (“TEA”) which includes high unemployment and rural areas). 

·         High Unemployment is defined as an area that, at the time of investment, is experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.

·         A Rural Area means any area not within either a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more.  Hence, a rural area must be both outside of a metropolitan statistical area and outside of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more.

Presently, the vast majority of EB-5 Investments are made in TEA areas since it is simply half the price of admission.


A potential immigrant investor should consult with an experienced EB-5 attorney before investing in an EB-5 project in order to ensure the project’s suitability for EB-5.  Further, the investor should be weary of projects as recently this program has been plagued with fraud and other improprieties.  Once the immigrant investor and his/her attorney has performed a thorough examination of the project, the investor should read every word of the investment documents before he signs anything and wires the money to the project account.  Further, any questions from the investor and his attorney should be satisfactorily answered prior to executing the transaction.


Currently, it is estimated that at least 18,000 investors are in the queue, which is enough to take up the investor quota for many years as it translates into 45,000 individuals when you include the eligible family members of investors.  Approximately, 85-90 percent of these 15,000 individuals and their families originate from the People’s Republic of China.   Thus, EB-5 immigration from China has been stalled by USCIS until more visas become available. However, other than Chinese nationals, citizens of other countries still enjoy expedited immigration via the EB-5 program after their petitions are approved. 


Congress is struggling to come to understanding about the future of the Regional Center Program within EB-5 as the Regional Center program was set to expire on Dec. 11, 2015 (after a recent short term extension).  However, recently, Congress extended it to Sept. 30, 2015.  

Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) proposed comprehensive EB-5 reform which including fraud deterrence language, a provision stating that 2,000 of the 10,000 annually available EB-5 visas be reserved for immigrants who invest in rural areas, and a more limited definition of a high unemployment area .  Nonetheless, despite broad bipartisan support of this reform, congressional leadership jettisoned this EB-5 reform bill, thus, extinguishing the opportunity for real reforms to be put into place. There will be much heated debate over EB-5 on Capitol Hill and the media early in 2016.


Consider the EB-5 program as a successful option for you and your family to enjoy the benefits of permanent residents in the U.S. 

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