In 2018, the U.S. economy is booming. There has probably never been a better time to make an investment in the United States.

The standard requirement for international investors to obtain a green card based on investment is still $1 million through the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.

But many international investors want to know: Is there a less costly alternative to that $1 million standard minimum investment?

The answer is yes, and you are going to learn about it below. But first, here is a brief, a general introduction to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.

EXACTLY WHAT IS THE EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM?

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program was established by Congress in 1990. The program’s goal is to increase international investments in businesses and business ventures based here in the U.S.

Provided that you have complied with all of the other immigration requirements, and provided that your investment creates jobs for U.S. workers, a $1 million investment provides you and your immediate family members with green cards and creates a path to U.S. citizenship.

If you are an international investor and you are seeking a great investment opportunity in the U.S., but you do not have $1 million to invest, you may obtain a green card with a minimum $500,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area or “TEA,” a high-unemployment region.

HOW IS A TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA DEFINED?

Targeted Employment Areas are identified by each of the fifty state governments. These are regions where the unemployment rate is 150 percent or more of the national unemployment rate.

Participation in the EB-5 Investor Visa Program starts by choosing the right investment project and by submitting an I-526 form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You should have an experienced immigration attorney help you identify the right investment opportunity and help to you complete your Form I-526. Any mistakes or incomplete information on the I-526 will very likely hold up the processing of your visa request.

As you begin the process of acquiring an EB-5 investor visa, you’ll need to focus on your investment project. Obtaining a TEA designation for a particular EB-5 project can be imperative.

If you are requesting a TEA designation for your investment project, your TEA designation request – and a “TEA letter” from authorities in the state where the project is located – should be included as part of your I-526 petition.

WHAT IS AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER?

Most EB-5 Investor Visa Program participants work through what is called an EB-5 “Regional Center.” The Regional Centers are designated by USCIS, but they are private-sector groups that pool investment monies for resorts, hotels, office and retail developments, and similar projects.

In 2018, a number of the large, ongoing development projects in the U.S. are depending on EB-5 funding.

Regional centers allow you as an international investor to make a cash investment without having to create or manage a new business or a new project on your own.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR I-526 PETITION IS APPROVED?

When your I-526 petition is approved, if you are residing outside of the U.S. at that time, you must submit a visa request to the U.S. Department of State. Consular affairs officers at U.S. embassies and consulate determine if applicants are admissible to the U.S.

If you are currently in the United States and you are carrying another visa, then you must request an adjustment of status from USCIS. USCIS will then conduct a background check, and an in-person interview may also be required.

If everything you are reading here sounds confusing and complicated – selecting an investment opportunity, submitting an I-526 form, and obtaining a TEA designation – that’s because it is in fact confusing and complicated. Where should you turn for help?

HOW CAN AN IMMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP YOU?

International investors who are seeking to invest in a U.S.-based business or business venture must have the services and advice of a qualified U.S. immigration lawyer who regularly and routinely guides prospective investors through the EB-5 visa application and investment process.

The EB-5 Investor Visa Program gives international investors a chance at the American Dream. The investments made through the EB-5 program benefit all of us.

Through the EB-5 program, developers and business owners are able to acquire the funds they need for new projects. And across the United States, EB-5 investments have brought prosperity back to scores of depressed communities and declining businesses.

WHAT ELSE WILL AN EB-5 INVESTOR NEED?

For the international investor, obtaining an EB-5 investor visa and deciding where to place an investment will require some serious research and consideration, but most of the international investors in the EB-5 program find that their patience and hard work are amply rewarded.

Patience is what international investors will need a great deal of when they apply for EB-5 visas. Investors must start the visa application process as early as possible, because the wait for an available EB-5 visa may take a year or more.

Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued annually. EB-5 visas are for international investors with a vision. Those investors must have sound legal advice that they can trust.

WILL THE EB-5 MINIMUM INVESTMENT AMOUNT INCREASE THIS YEAR?

The $500,000 minimum investment figure has not changed since Congress first established the EB-5 Investor Visa Program back in 1990.

International investors need to know that although the current EB-5 program has been extended through at least September 30, 2018, a number of changes have been proposed to the EB-5 program, so it is possible that the minimum investment amount may be raised at that time.

If you have been thinking about an investment in the United States, the time to speak with a skilled immigration lawyer is now. The EB-5 Investor Visa Program is one of the best paths to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship in the United States.

WHAT OTHER BENEFITS DO EB-5 INVESTORS ENJOY?

The average return on a typical EB-5 investment is about eight percent. Of course, the value of obtaining a green card – and a U.S. university education for your children – can’t be measured in dollars.

You can learn more about the EB-5 Investor Visa Program or you can start the application process right now by arranging to speak with an immigration attorney – by telephone or online – from any nation in the world.

If you want to make an investment in the United States, you must have an immigration attorney’s help. The time to start is now.