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What prospective investors should know about the EB-5 visa program

While most of the national dialogue surrounding immigration has lately been centered on the important -- and always contentious -- issues of deportation and citizenship, it's important to acknowledge that there is another active immigration-related conversation taking place on Capitol Hill concerning the viability of the EB-5 visa program.

Specifically, as recently as this past spring, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns about the program potentially endangering national security and being susceptible to fraud.

As fascinating as this debate has been, the reality is that many people might not be entirely certain as to what exactly the program is, what it entails and just how valuable it really is.

In recognition of this -- and in the hopes of helping people reach their own well-informed opinions -- today's post will start providing some basic background information on the EB-5 visa program.

The basics of the EB-5 program

Congress authorized the creation the EB-5 visa program back in 1990 in a bid to stimulate growth of the U.S. economy through foreign investment. As for the name, it derives from the program's status as the fifth visa preference for employment-based immigration.  

At its core, the EB-5 visa program enables immigrant entrepreneurs along with their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to apply for permanent residence by doing the following:

  • Making a capital investment in a new U.S.-based commercial enterprise, and
  • Preserving or creating 10 permanent jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of admission to the U.S.

For the purposes of the EB-5 program, a new U.S.-based commercial enterprise is defined as a for-profit entity (partnership, corporation, holding company, joint venture, etc.) created after November 29, 1990.

This isn't to say, however, that those new commercial enterprises formed on or before this date are ineligible. Indeed, they qualify if they meet the following conditions:

  • The existing enterprise was reorganized or restructured in such a way that a new commercial enterprise was created post-purchase, or
  • The existing enterprise was expanded to such a degree that either its net worth or number of employees increased by 40 percent  

We'll continue examining the EB-5 visa program in future posts, exploring the job creation and capital investment requirements.

If you would like to learn more about this complex area of immigration law, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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