In exchange for the right to legally reside in the United States, more and more immigrants are applying their financial resources as a means to emigrate. The Immigrant Investor Program, or as it is more commonly referred to as “EB-5 visa,” was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the United States economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.  This visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. Since there is no quota or waiting listing for EB-5s, foreign nationals are able to obtain permanent residence status more quickly compared to other immigration alternatives.

The EB-5 visa provides foreign investors an opportunity to become a lawful permanent resident if they can demonstrate that their investments are creating jobs in the United States. To obtain the visa, foreign nationals must invest $1,000,000, in creating or preserving at least ten full-time jobs, either direct or indirect, for qualifying full-time employees within two years. A qualifying employee is a United States citizen, permanent resident, or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States. A qualified employee does not include the immigrant investor, his or her spouse, sons or daughters, or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status who is not authorized to work in the United States. A full-time employee is employment of a qualifying employee that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.

Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital, while indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. The investor may invest through his or her own commercial enterprise or in a commercial enterprise owned by other parties or through a pre-approved “regional center.” Regional centers are government-approved entities in specific geographical areas in which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has determined that investments will create the necessary ten jobs per investors, whether directly or directly.

If an investment project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (“TEA”), a reduced investment of $500,000 is required. A TEA is a rural area, outside a metropolitan statistical area or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more. A TEA can also be an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate.

If the foreign national investor’s petition is approved, the investor and his or her dependents will be granted conditional permanent residence, which is valid for two years. Towards the end of the two-year period of conditional residency, the foreign investor is eligible to apply to have the conditions on their lawful permanent residency removed, if he or she can establish that the job creation requirements have been met.  Currently, there are about 58 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers located throughout the state of Florida, with 4 of those centers located in Miami.

For more information, please visit www.mmurraylaw.com, or contact Michael G. Murray, Esq. at 305-895-2500 (office) or [email protected]