Green Cards through investment


By: Allen E. Kaye & Steven D. Heller

For foreign investors looking for freedom and flexibility to live and work in the United States in a way accommodating to their lifestyles, the little-known EB-5 investor category can provide an excellent opportunity to accomplish this goal through the obtaining of Green Cards. There are two EB-5 programs.

The Million-Dollar Green Card

The Regular program offers the investor the greatest independence, but is closely scrutinized by USCIS. It has three basic requirements:

1. Investment in a new commercial enterprise;

2. Investment of at least $1,000,000 ($500,000 in certain cases) into the business, and;

3. Creation of employment for at least 10 full-time U.S. workers

The investment may consist of the contribution of various forms of capital, including cash, equipment, inventory, property or other tangible equivalents. An investment amount of $1 Million is generally the minimum. However, $500,000 is acceptable if the business is in a "targeted" employment area where the rate of unemployment is 150% of the national average rate, or in a rural area as designated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The Regional Center program

Ideal for the retiree or inactive investor, the Regional Center program advantageously removes the 10 full-time employee requirement of the Regular program and substitutes the less restrictive "indirect employment creation" standard which allows the investor to qualify by proving a combination of 10 direct and/or indirect employees who are new to the Regional Center. The indirect employees may be those employed as a result of the economic activity of the center and do not have to be on its own payroll. The dollar thresholds remain the same, although generally, the Regional Centers would qualify for the $500,000 investment minimum.

The EB-5 program requires at a minimum that the investor be a limited partner, one who has a policy making role but is not involved in the day-to-day affairs or decision making of the company. Thus, for those who are not interested in running an active business or being fully employed, Regional Center programs can offer a more acceptable inactive form of investment as compared to most Regular program investments.

Another advantage of Regional Center programs that adds to the flexibility of this Green Card category is that the investor is not required to live at the place of investment. He or she can live wherever he or she wishes in the United States.

Under mandate by Congress, Regional Center EB-5 petitions (Form I-526) are given priority by USCIS. This results in a quicker path to approval and since the investment group has already prepared documentation of the investment, the investor does not need to assemble the extensive The program frequently involves purchasing low-yielding industrial properties with invested funds and converting them into mortgage free higher-value commercial properties. Various documentation to show the legitimacy of the investment. Each Regional Center program must be pre-approved by USCIS in order to be eligible to qualify for EB-5 Green Cards.