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What is the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program?
In 1990, under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5) the US Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category. Each year, the provision grants 10,000 immigrant visas to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis that their investment in a new commercial enterprise will benefit the U.S. economy.
To encourage immigration through the EB-5 program, Congress created a Pilot Program in 1993. The program specifically sets aside 3,000 visas annually for foreign investors who apply through a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated Regional Center Investment Program. An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated regional center must generally make a qualifying investment of US $1 million. Certain high unemployment or target employment areas (TEA) qualify for a lesser investment of $500,000. Additionally, the foreign investor must demonstrate that at least 10 jobs were directly or indirectly created through the investment.
How many EB-5 visas are available each year?
There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available to qualified aliens each year, and 3,000 of those visas are reserved for aliens who invest through a USCIS designated regional center.
What is the minimum required amount of capital to be invested in order to apply for an EB-5 visa?
The minimum capital investment requirement is US$500,000 when you select a project in a rural area or targeted employment area (TEA); for all other projects, the capital requirement is US$1,000,000.
Are EB-5 visas available to people from any country in the world?
Legally yes. However, people from countries that do not have reliable tax and other financial documentation will need to be more actively involved in proving the authentication and source of investment funds to process an EB-5 visa application.
What is the most common reason for being rejected for an EB-5 visa?
The most common reason an applicant is rejected for an EB-5 visa is that the applicant cannot prove that the investment capital was legally earned.
Is an investor required to live within the designated area of the Regional Center?
No, an EB-5 visa holder is free to live, work, attend school, or retire anywhere in the United States, regardless of the location of the investment.
What is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)?
USCIS is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is a government agency responsible for the implementation, administration of immigration and naturalization laws, rules and regulations, functions and policies in the provision of services.
Do I need my own immigration lawyer to prepare and file my immigrant investor (I-526 and I-829) petitions?
No. Every Foreign Investor shall enter into a separate representation agreement with an attorney of their choice or with an attorney recommended by Carolina States Regional Center.
The attorney shall prepare the I-526 Petition for you as a Foreign National Investor. Upon approval of the Petition, your designated Immigration Attorney can prepare your Applications for Conditional Permanent Residency. Before the end of the two-year Conditional Permanent Residency period, the designated Immigration Attorney can prepare for you Form I-829, the Immigrant Petition to Remove the Conditions of your Permanent Residency. Approval of your I-829 is the final step necessary for you to obtain unconditional Permanent Residency.
How long is a “conditional” greed card valid for?
A “conditional” green card is a temporary green card valid for two years, after which it cannot be renewed. During the 90 days before the card expires the card holder must file a petition to remove the conditions or they will lose their permanent resident status.
What is the difference between ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’ green cards?
Under the regulations, an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa receives a “conditional” green card, which must be reissued after two years, subject to removal of conditions. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges. A conditional Green Card is a temporary Green Card valid for two years. One year and nine months after it is issued, a three-month window opens up during which an individual must file another application with the USCIS to verify that all of the funds have been invested and the required employment has been created. When the conditional resident status has been lifted, full resident status is granted and a permanent Green Card is issued.
If I wished to gain U.S. Citizenship how long would it take?
You have to be a green card holder for 5 years to become a US citizen. This time can include the two years with a “conditional” green card.
Can I apply if I have been rejected or terminated in the past by USCIS for an L-1, E-2, B, or other visa?
Rejection in the past does not disqualify the applicant, unless the reasons relate to immigration fraud or other grounds of inadmissibility or removability. It is most important that all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration history problems be disclosed to the limited partnership and legal counsel in advance of application.
Who receives the permanent residency (“green card”)?
The foreign investor, his/her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21. It is possible for adopted children to be included in the family. Upon approval you will receive the Conditional Resident Alien Card via the mail.
Must I be in good health?
Yes, you must submit to and pass a health medical examination so either as part of the US Consular or Adjustment within the U.S. process before a conditional EB-5 Visa is granted.
Do I need to speak English to become a permanent resident of the U.S.?
No, this is not a requirement.
What is a limited partnership?
A limited partnership combines corporate limited liability with partnership taxation. The limited partnership, formed by filing a charter with a state government, consists of a general partner and one or more limited partners. The charter details the rights and powers of the limited and general partners, percentages of ownership, and distributions of profits. The general partner manages the business.
The limited partners are passive investors liable only for the value of their investment. The limited partnership income is taxed at the partner level, not at the entity level.
Is the investor required to have a certain level of education or business management experience?
No, the investor is not required to have a certain level of education or business experience. They are only required to have the investment money in which they invest.
How is my limited partner interest protected?
The Limited Partnership agreement lists the names and percentage interests of the limited partners. The deed for the investment property is held in the name of the limited partnership, which is public record. This means the property cannot be sold, mortgaged or altered without complying with the terms of the limited partnership agreement. We personally provide rigorous due diligence for each business. We work with the EB-5 business or project to plan aggressive and realistic financial goals.
Is my investment guaranteed?
No. U.S. regulations require an “at risk” investment without guarantees or redemption rights. As in any investment there is a risk of total loss. We urge prospective foreign investors to please consult their own financial advisor for advice on investing through this program.
Why must I invest before you will apply for my green card?
Investment companies and designated Regional Centers accept EB-5 investors by placing funds in an escrow account pending I-526 Petition approval. The funds may only be released upon approval of I-526 Petition unless otherwise agreed upon in the Offering Memorandum.
Can money gifted by a parent, other relative or business be used for an EB-5 investment?
Yes, provided that any applicable gift taxes are paid. It must be demonstrated that the gift is an actual transaction and is a not a ruse or that the gifted funds will be given back after permanent resident status is granted.