If you are an entrepreneur looking to relocate to the US, the EB-5 Visa program can help you fulfill your career and lifestyle goals. But while the US undeniably offers world-class business opportunities, investing abroad is never free of risks, especially if your green card is at stake!
Thankfully, there is more than one strategy you can use to minimize your investor and immigrant risks and reel in the best returns on your investment. If you are unsure how to get started, the guide below can help - but don’t forget that the help of a specialized immigration lawyer might prove invaluable!
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: An Overview
To understand how to take advantage of the EB5 Visa program, it is first necessary to clarify what this pathway to permanent residency entails. The EB-5 Visa is a type of Employment-Based Visa Preference dedicated to foreign investors looking to commit capital to found, grow, or contribute to a US business.
Also known as the Job Creation Visa, Golden Visa, or Immigrant Investor Visa Program, the EB5 Visa gives a chance to foreign investors to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the US, given that the following requirements are met:
Applicants must invest a minimum of $1,050,000 or $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)
The investment must support the creation and maintenance of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified employees
The invested capital must be “at risk.”
Although the process might seem straightforward, investing in an unfamiliar market can quickly become a minefield for inexperienced investors. The strategies below can help you minimize risk, maximize ROI, and set your expectations correctly.
Invest in an EB-5 Project Located in a Rural Targeted Employment Area (TEA)
Some of the most advantageous EB 5 investments for foreign investors are the ones that contribute to the economy in Rural Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs). TEAs may be rural or non-rural and are defined as areas that, at the time of investment, have an unemployment level at least 150% higher than the national average.
When choosing to start or contribute to a US business in a TEA, you will only be required to invest at least $800,000, as opposed to $1,050,000, which is the minimum investment required in other areas. This might be a great alternative for foreign investors with limited investment capital.
Conduct Your Due Diligence and Make Sure That Your Investment Will Fulfill the Job-Creation Requirement
Investing in a foreign market is all but easy, especially if you don’t know what to expect from the local competition, business environments, and legal requirements to start an enterprise.
What’s more, it is important to consider that if you choose to make a direct investment in a US business, your investment should guarantee the creation of 10 full-time jobs - a critical requirement to fulfill if you wish to obtain a green card! In some cases, you might also need to produce evidence of how your business will benefit the US economy.
Because of these challenges, you should spend time researching the US business environment, economy, competition, and business opportunities before investing. After all, don’t forget that your capital will be at risk!
Consider Investing in Regional Investment Centers
Another alternative to minimize your risk as an investor and immigrant is to invest in a project sponsored by a Regional Investment Center. These entities are designated by USCIS and provide a list of projects to which foreign investors can contribute.
These are generally large-scale projects (i.e., commercial real estate development) that create enough jobs for each investor, thus significantly increasing your chances of securing a green card. However, when choosing to invest in a Regional Center, it is important to carry out your due diligence and be aware that returns can be limited, usually around 0.25-1.5% of the invested capital.
Be Aware of Waiting Times and Additional Fees
The EB5 visa program allows foreign investors to leverage their capital and business acumen to obtain a green card in the US. However, the process isn’t as straightforward as it seems - and setting your expectations correctly can save you more than one headache.
Firstly, timelines have been significantly stretched by the backlog accumulated during the brief sunset period of the EB5 visa that took place in June 2021. Because of this, waiting times have recently increased from 1-2 years to 5-6 years.
Additionally, as mentioned above, your capital will be at risk, meaning that you are not guaranteed to see returns. And even more importantly, the minimum investment required does not account for processing fees, which can be as high as $50,000-$70,000.
To shorten these timelines and take advantage of the investment opportunities available, consider accessing expedited EB5 visas by investing in rural or non-rural TEAs.
Work With a Specialized Immigration Lawyer
Lastly, the forms to petition for an EB5 visa might seem short and easy to fill. But make no mistake - you’ll need to produce a multitude of evidence, documents, and forms to be approved! That is why working with an immigration lawyer is crucial to avoid common application pitfalls, maximize your chances of getting approved, and reduce your immigration risk.
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