An Investment Green Card — which is formally known as an EB5 visa — was introduced by the U.S. Congress in 1990, as a way to generate economic activity in the U.S., as well as create full-time jobs in the U.S.

If you’re an entrepreneur with significant resources who wants to live and work in the U.S., then an Investment Green Card may be the best option. However, there is an immense amount of misinformation floating across the web about this visa category; especially in the current political climate, where all USCIS visa programs are under scrutiny (especially the HB1 visa, which is for alien workers with extraordinary ability in certain fields like health care, cyber security, etc.).

Naturally, you will need to work with an experienced EB5 attorney to prepare your petition, and give you the best chance of success. However, here are some key facts that will help you decide if this could be the right path for you, as well as members of your immediate family

Three EB5 Visa Streams

There are three EB5 visa streams (note all figures as USD):

  • You can invest $1 million dollars, and create 10 full-time jobs in the U.S.
  • You can invest $500,000 in an area of high employment or a rural area, and create 10 full-time jobs in the U.S.
  • You can invest either $1 million or $500,000 dollars (depending on whether the area is high employment/rural area or not) towards what USCIC designated as a Regional Project, and create 10 full-time indirect or 10-full time induced jobs in the U.S.

Indirect jobs are those created in the community as a result of your investment. Induced jobs are jobs created in the community as a result of income spent by people that you hire.

Troubled Businesses

You may also be able to obtain an Investment Green Card by investing in what USCIS designated as a “Troubled Business.” This is an business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • The business has been operational and functioning for at least two years.
  • In the past 12-24 months, the business has experienced at least a 20% net loss.
  • The business has a least 10 full-time employees.
  • The business is expected to maintain its current level of staffing for the next 36-42 months.

As you can imagine, many U.S. businesses would find it extremely beneficial to receive an influx of cash from a foreign investor (or any investor for that matter!). As a result, USCIS is very selective about which businesses are deemed “Troubled Business.” Among other requirements, such businesses must submit verified financial statements. They must also demonstrate they are truly having operational difficulties that are likely to lead to a shutdown (and hence job loss), but with a significant cash infusion they are likely to remain solvent and return to stability.

Additional Details

Contrary to what some people have been led to believe, you don’t have to live near, or even work on, a business or Regional Center that you invest in. For example, you can invest in a business located in Los Angeles and live in Miami. Furthermore, if you are approved for an Investment Green Card, you may be allowed to petition your immediate family (spouse and children under 21 years of age) to join you in the U.S. Your spouse may also be eligible to apply for a work visa, so that she or he can legally earn income while living in the U.S.

Keep in mind, however, that neither you nor any of your family members will not be U.S. citizens, which (among other things) means that you can be removed from the country under certain conditions, such as committing a serious crime, or failing to properly follow the visa program rules (e.g. leaving the country for an extended period of time, etc.)

The Bottom Line

Despite the political rhetoric, in most cases an Investment Green Card is clearly a win for both foreign investors, and especially for U.S. businesses, workers and communities. However, as you would expect (and as Congress and U.S. citizens demand), USCIS carefully scrutinizes all petitions, and the process is complex and time consuming. Speak with a qualified immigration attorney to learn more. Your path to living and working in the U.S. could indeed be through an EB5 visa!