EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States.To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a "Targeted Employment Area" - high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. Initially, under the first EB-5 program, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the Pilot Program investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing - "Troubled Business"]), or into a "Regional Center" - a 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor's investment.
If the foreign national investor's petition is approved, the investor and their dependents( children under 21) will be granted conditional permanent residence valid for two years Within the 90 day period before the conditional permanent residence expires, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and that 10 jobs have been maintained, or 10 jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable time period
Under this pilot program, foreign nationals may invest in a pre-approved regional center, or "economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment". Investments within a regional center provide foreign nationals the added benefit of allowing them to count jobs created both directly and indirectly for purposes of meeting 10 job creation requirement.
USCIS defines a targeted employment area (TEA) as an area which, at the time of investment, is a rural area (not within either a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more), OR an area within an MSA or the outer boundary of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate.
If the location of the proposed new business is not a TEA, the investor has the option to gather the relevant publicly available state or federal statistics on their own and submit it with their petition for USCIS to have a new TEA determination made. In California, the investor may petition the state government for designating a particular subdivision of the area as an area of high unemployment (over 150% the national average); however, this designation is not made by USCIS
Direct Investment Businesses are the safest, fastest and usually most profitable way for EB-5 visa seekers to get their green card, as DHS & SEC have started cracking down on fraud committed by regional centers.