Investing in Real Estate in the U.S. Could be a More Efficient Path to Citizenship
The EB-5 visa program has long been acclaimed as a win-win situation for the American economy and foreign investors interested in making the U.S. their permanent home. In 2012 and 2013, over 11,000 visa holders invested almost $5.8 billion into nearly 600 EB-5 projects, creating over 174,000 jobs for U.S. citizens and giving these investors and their families the opportunity to live and work here. Each year, a limit of 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available to eligible applicants. Congress established the program in 1990 to rejuvenate the U.S. economy through capital investment and job creation by overseas investors. It was followed two years later by the Regional Center Program, or Immigrant Investor Program, which reserves a number of EB-5 visas for those who invest in certain approved regional commercial centers and promote their economic growth. What is a Regional Center? Regional Centers are specific geographic areas that seek economic growth through improved productivity, job creation, greater capital investment, and higher export sales. They create limited partnerships, each with its own business focus and activity. Overseas investors have the opportunity to become permanent residents of the U.S. by investing $500,000 in a regional center, which spares them the added time and expense of establishing and managing a business in the U.S. EB-5 Criteria The EB-5 program is named after the employment-based fifth prefe rence visa granted to participants. Under this investment-based initiative, entrepreneurs, their spouses, and unmarried children under 21 become eligible for green cards if they meet the following criteria: Invest at least $1,000,000 in a commercial enterprise in the U.S. or $500,000 in a regional center or targeted employment area (rural location or area with high unemployment rate) Intend to preserve or create 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers (does not include the entrepreneur and their immediate family) EB-5 visa applicants must be able to prove that the money they are investing was acquired through legitimate means such as employment, investment, business ownership, gift, or inheritance. USCIS generally requires investors to submit the previous five years of tax returns and clearly document how they obtained the investment funds. Applying for a Green Card Once the necessary investment is made, the applicant or their attorney must prepare and submit the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, or I-526 petition, to USCIS. The processing times will vary, but it generally takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months to adjudicate the petition. Once it is approved, the investor has the option of adjusting their status and receiving a two-year conditional permanent residence. During the final 90 days of this period, an application must be filed to remove the conditions from the permanent residence. The process includes submitting proof of the following: The investor has properly maintained their investment At least 10 jobs were created This process presently takes over 18 months. At Jarbath Pena Law Group we have helped many clients call the U.S. home after making valuable contributions to the economy. Our enthusiastic and experienced team of immigration attorneys is as excited about your success as you are, so for more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us.