EB-5 Overview


Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990 to benefit the U.S. economy by attracting investments from qualified foreign investors. Under the program, each investor is required to demonstrate that at least 10 new jobs were created or saved, as a result of the EB-5 investment. The investment must be a minimum of $1 million, or $500,000 if the funds are invested in certain high-unemployment or rural areas.

The U.S. government created the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program to encourage foreign investment in U.S. businesses. In exchange for investing in a business that creates jobs for U.S. workers, foreign nationals and their families can become permanent residents of the United States. The program’s name, “EB-5”, comes from the visa category for which immigrant investors apply – the Employment-Based 5th Visa.

While the program has evolved considerably since its creation in 1990, there are currently two ways for foreign investors to obtain an EB-5 Visa by: 1) Direct investment in a new or existing commercial enterprise that creates jobs or 2) Investing capital through a “Regional Center,” a government-approved firm that actively manages investor funds and the immigration approval process.

Investing capital through a Regional Center provides several major benefits to immigrants seeking residency through the traditional EB-5 program. One of the most important advantages of working with a designated Regional Center is the relaxed job creation requirement, which is critical to obtaining and sustaining permanent residency. Normally, an investor must prove he or she created and sustained 10 new, direct jobs over a 24 month period. Under the Regional Center program, however, the investor can satisfy this requirement by showing indirect job creation as the result of pooled funds from all investors in the project. In other words, the investor does not need to show that he or she directly employs any workers.

Regardless of which option an investor chooses, the minimum investment amounts are the same. Each EB-5 Visa applicant must invest a minimum of $1,000,000 in a job-creating venture. If the business receiving capital is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) – a rural area or region with high unemployment – the minimum investment amount drops to $500,000. The majority of offerings are $500,000 investments and EB5 Capital focuses on these types of investments.

To read the actual EB-5 statutes passed by Congress, please visit the following links:

  • Foreign investors working with a designated regional center are given priority by the USCIS
  • Family members of EB-5 investors (including spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) receive green cards
  • Investors and families have the freedom to live, work and retire anywhere they choose in the United States – there is no requirement to live near the site of investment
  • Investors are not responsible for day-to-day management of the commercial enterprise
  • Investment capital can come from any lawful source, including gifts, inheritances and business ownership
  • Investors with EB-5 Green Cards may travel outside of the United State and return without a visa
  • Investor enjoys the same benefits as other US residents – including resident discount on tuition to attend US colleges and universities
  • Investors may apply for full US citizenship after 5 years
  • Ability to develop and run your own business
  • Ability to sponsor Green Cards for your relatives

The EB-5 Regional Center program is supported by mayors and local economic development officials who see the value of the program first-hand.

  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently endorsed permanent authorization of the regional center program, noting that EB-5 has become a vital source of urban redevelopment funds.
  • Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings said, “The EB-5 Program enables regional centers to be a key economic driver in their communities, creating desperately needed jobs in a tough economic environment.”
  • Mark Jaffe, president of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, has called EB-5 “a common sense job creator that is straightforward with no cost to U.S. taxpayers,” and cited the program as “an important ingredient” in the success of “large-scale, public/private real estate projects that create much needed jobs in areas of high unemployment.”

Congress enhanced the economic impact of the EB-5 program in 1992 by permitting the designation of Regional Centers to pool EB-5 capital from multiple foreign investors for investment in USCIS-approved economic development projects within a defined geographic region. Today, 95 percent of all EB-5 capital is raised and invested by Regional Centers.

EB-5 Regional Centers fill a critical need for new funding sources in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, leverage additional capital to enhance the economic impact of EB-5 investments and help local governments and businesses integrate EB-5 investments into their overall economic development strategies.

A comprehensive peer-reviewed economic study found that during fiscal year 2012, investments made through the EB-5 program contributed $3.39 billion to U.S. GDP and supported over 42,000 U.S. jobs. This is more than a 100 percent increase from the average annual impact result reported in 2011. And, these jobs were created at no cost to taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office has scored the program as revenue neutral, with administrative costs paid for by applicant fees.

More than 25 countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, use similar programs to attract foreign investments. The American program is more stringent than many others, requiring substantial risk for investors in terms of both their financial investment and immigration status.

  • Investments made through the U.S. EB-5 program must be “at risk” in the same way that investments in stocks or equity funds carry an inherent risk. There is no guaranteed financial return.
  • If their application is approved by USCIS, EB-5 investors receive a conditional visa that is valid for two years. In order to receive a permanent visa, these investors must demonstrate that the legally required economic benefits flowing from their investments have been achieved.

Annually, the EB-5 Program accounts for less than 1% of the visas issued by the U.S. Throughout the process, EB-5 investors are subject to the same background checks and national security screenings as applicants in any other visa category, and their ability to eventually apply for citizenship is subject to the same criteria as other visa holders. Like any other investment vehicle, EB-5 investment funds are subject to U.S. securities and anti-fraud laws and regulations.