Merit-based immigration is primarily associated with the H-1B visa program. However, alternative avenues also lead to legal permanent residency in the United States, such as the Immigrant Investor Program or EB-5 visa, a proven job-creating program gaining popularity.
What is the Investor Visa Program?
The United States Congress developed the Investor Visa Program (EB-5 visa category) in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The underlying policies of the EB-5 investor visa benefit the U.S. economy overall, including economically disadvantaged communities, American workers, and foreign national investors. The goal of the EB-5 investor visa program is to generate a "win-win" scenario for all parties involved or affected.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services administers EB-5 investor visas, the only investment-based visa that allows for direct application of permanent resident status in exchange for a significant investment into the U.S. Although critics say the EB-5 visa is "citizenship for sale," it is, without a doubt, a job growth tool that has been proven economically effective and maybe the purest form of a merit-based system.
The program has resulted in over $22 billion in foreign direct investment in the U.S. since 2008 and created more than 276,000 jobs, according to the EB-5 trade group, Invest In the USA (IIUSA).
On Nov. 21, 2019, Congress raised the minimum investment amount of $500k to $900k and the $1 million investment to $1.8 million to account for inflation over the past 28 years. The investment price had remained constant since the program began in 1990.
EB-5 Risk and Investment Projects
Putting large sums of money at risk in a foreign economy is a high-stakes decision for potential investors. Citizenship contingent upon long-term business success and the ability to create at least ten U.S. jobs is a high-stakes decision that requires due diligence.
The type of investment project is perhaps the most critical decision an applicant must make. The enterprise choice affects whether or not the application is approved and the degree to which you can achieve financial success. There is a wide range of investment options that can meet USCIS conditions for approval.
When calculating the most suitable type of business to fund, potential investors must ask themselves, "Do I want a larger return on my investment, or am I investing primarily to meet the basic requirements for obtaining a green card?"
Acceptable EB-5 enterprises exist across various fields and industries from medical facilities, manufacturing, agriculture, and real estate development, to hotels, restaurants, casinos, and stadiums. With so much riding on the choice of a commercial entity, foreign investors must assess the risks associated with the type of business and the strategy for meeting USCIS requirements, such as job creation.
Giving proper consideration to the type of investment can be a daunting task, especially for those without a background in business, economics, or a specific industry. Our EB-5 network offers a complete team of professional U.S. immigration attorneys and an experienced licensed broker-dealer who has evaluated numerous regional centers and tax advisors to ensure proper assessment of options, strategies, and particular issues that applicants may face.