EB-5 Visa USA – Immigrant Investor Visa
In 1990 Congress established what became known as the EB-5 Visa USA Immigrant Investor Visa program. Its purpose is to solicit significant investments from aliens whose money is then used to create jobs in the US economy. In return, the alien and immediate family are granted green cards (residency) to the United States. Each year it has become an increasingly popular way for aliens to immigrate to the US.
Expected Reform in the EB-5 Visa USA
The issue now is that the program expired on September 30, 2015. The Congress extended it until December 2015, but it is expected that the EB-5 Visa USA program will undergo a reform. Immigration to the US has been a political hot topic for several years, even more so now with presidential politicking. In 2014 the progress of a major immigration reform bill was halted because of interparty fighting. Immigration issues to the US remain complicated and contentious. The question is whether Congress can act before the EB-5 expiration date and preserve the program.
Immigrant Investor to the USA Visa Program
Under current law, alien investors can participate in the program through two means:
1) Direct investment into a project the investor personally manages.
2) Investment in a major development project operated through an approved Regional Center, where the individual investor has little or no control over the investment and the project. Each year 10,000 visas are made available. The vast majority are issued through Regional Center projects.
What Investment Is Required for the EB-5 Visa USA?
The program requires an initial investment of one million dollars. That investment must produce ten full-time jobs in the US economy over the next two years. If, after two years, it cannot be shown that the investment produced the requisite number of jobs, then the investor and their family will lose their green cards. Alternatively, if an investment is made into an area of high unemployment, the investment can be as little as $500,000. However, the investment must still produce ten jobs over the following two years.
Problems in the EB-5 Visa USA Program
While the program has proved popular and has successfully drawn in serious foreign investment, resulting in major development projects, it has been fraught with problems. For instance, some of the Regional Center projects were scams, and investors lost their investments and never received green cards. The commitment to creating ten new jobs was sometimes compromised where claims were made of large-scale job creation, later found to be faulty.
Expected Changes in the EB-5 Visa USA Program
Consequently, Congress is seriously considering reforming the program. The question is time. A few serious recommendations are to raise the threshold amounts of investments from $500,000 to $800,000 and one million dollars to $1.6 million. Another is to ensure 10 (or potentially less) direct jobs are created as opposed to shorter term construction jobs. Finally, Regional Center requirements will likely be tightened to prevent further scams.
Green Card via the EB-5 Visa USA
For those who utilize this program (few Israelis do), this is a great way to gain entry to the US for investors and their families. It also clearly benefits the US economy. Because of its popularity, the program will likely continue, but it is possible there will be an interruption, and there will certainly be changes made to it.
For more information about the EB-5 Visa USA or immigration to the USA please contact Adv. James Cohen, partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law offices.