Under the EB-5 investor visa program, foreign citizens are allowed to apply for and be issued a visa to live and work in the United States based on their ability to make a substantial investment into the U.S. economy. Under current regulations, “substantial” means an amount equal to at least $500,000 if the investment is made into a pre approved industry or geographic region in need of a cash boost, or at least $1,000,000 if invested in any other region or industry.
Here’s the Catch
Actually, it’s not a catch, so much as it is a failsafe to protect the system from abuse. In order to be approved for an investor visa, the foreign investor must make a qualifying investment into a U.S. based enterprise, but this will only allow the investor to be issued a conditional visa good for a period of up to two years. At the end of the initial two year period, the investor must show that his or her investment meets government minimums to be considered a success.
If the investment was not a success, then the investor may be able to apply for an extension for the initial visa, but there is no guarantee that the extension will be approved. The standard set by the government is that the investment must create at least 10 jobs if the funding is made into a new U.S. based venture, or that the investment must increase a company’s net worth or employee workforce by at least 40% if the investment is made into an existing business or venture.
Notes of Caution
According to our EB-5 investor visa attorneys, foreign investors need to be careful about making any kind of investment because of the risks that are usually involved. There is no guarantee that a funding will be a success and nobody is able to provide this kind of guarantee. Also, the government requires that investments be made or that a substantial step has been taken toward an investment before it will approve the issuance of an EB-5 investor visa.
If the funding is made into an illegitimate or unqualified business, the foreign investor may find out too late and be required to start the entire investment and application process all over from the beginning once a legitimate and qualifying business has been found and the funding made again.
In terms of making sure that a funding opportunity is legitimate and will qualify under immigration guidelines, an attorney can provide the foreign investor on how to perform due diligence on the investment to make sure the investor is not wasting his or her time. This is only one benefit of working with an EB-5 investor visa lawyer to apply for an EB-5 investor visa.
Benefits of Working with an Attorney
Along with helping the investor make sure that an investment opportunity is legitimate, an attorney can explain and answer questions about the EB-5 investor application process, can help the applicant compile and submit all of the necessary evidence and paperwork to support the issuance of a visa, and can represent the applicant should a decision need to be appealed.