Q I’ve heard about the EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors. What is it and what are the challenges facing these visa holders?

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AThe EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This 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. Investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise 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 usually charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.

If the foreign national investor’s petition is approved, the investor and their dependents 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.

The dilemma for immigrant investors seeking entry into the United States via the EB-5 program has been two-fold:

First, finding an adequate project that meets the required job-creation requirements, and second, being able to get a return on  the invested dollars within the time frame specified.

The due diligence required of this investment should be approached with professional assistance and proper guidance throughout the entire EB-5 process (approximately 3 to 5-years). Persons investing in an EB-5 project should establish a check list when considering any EB-5 project—as all such projects are not equal.

The most popular EB-5 investments are real estate related and usually securities based. It is therefore important to deal with properly licensed person whether the EB-5 project presentation is being delivered abroad, or here in the United States.

There should be clarity on how the EB-5 funds are going to be used, safeguarded and eventually returned to the EB-5 investor.

In short, the EB-5 investor should be at a 100% comfort level with the investment, the project must meet certain investment requirements, and the investor’s immigration concerns must be part of the strategy.

It is therefore very important that the investor deal with an immigration lawyer who understands the EB-5 process and will be able to work as a contributing team member.

When done correctly, EB-5 is an excellent contribution to all involved. Truly a win-win situation.

David Fisher is the CEO and President of Contrarian EB-5 Advisors LLC.