EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

USCIS administers the EB-5 Program.  Under this program, investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; 
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. 


Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. 

In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program, which sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

Ways to Invest in an EB-5 Investor Program

  • Regional Center $800,000
  • Own Investment  (in any area) $1,050,000 
  • Own Investment in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) $800,000

Capital Investment Requirements:

  • To obtain an EB-5 Immigrant Visa (Green Card), you must invest at least $1,050,000 or $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (includes infrastructure projects) to finance a business that employs (full time) at least 10 American workers. 
  • Note: Immigrant investors must establish that they are the legal owner of the capital invested. Capital can include their promise to pay (a promissory note) in certain circumstances.
  • You can choose whether you want to invest individually (your project or others) or want to work through a wider investor pool via Regional Centers (RC). You can also choose to have a private investment pool for a qualifying investments. 
  • Example of businesses financed by EB5 investment are Hilton, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, and Starwood’s SLS Hotel & Casino.  

Targeted Employment Area (TEA)

  • A targeted employment area can be, at the time of investment, either:

    • A rural area; or
    • An area that has experienced high unemployment (defined as at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate).
      • A rural area is any area other than an area within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.
      • A high-unemployment area consists of the census tract or contiguous census tracts in which the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business, which may include any or all directly adjacent census tracts, if the weighted average unemployment for the specified area based on the labor force employment measure for each tract is 150% of the national unemployment average.

All EB-5 Investors Must Invest in a New Commercial Enterprise

A new commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business, including:

  • A sole proprietorship;
  • Partnership (whether limited or general);
  • Holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries (provided that each subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business);
  • Joint venture;
  • Corporation;
  • Business trust;
  • Limited liability company; or
  • Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.
  • This definition does not include noncommercial activity, such as owning and operating a personal residence. However, real estate investments that meet the requirements, are one of the most common investments in the EB-5 program. 

Future Adjustments/Possible Increases

  • Future adjustments to the amount of investment will be tied to inflation using the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) from March 15, 2022, to the date of adjustment. These adjustments will occur every five years, with the first such adjustment effective for petitions filed on or after Jan. 1, 2027.
  • EB-5 recently went through changes, so perhaps a good time to think about investment.

Job Creation Requirements

  • An EB-5 investor must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.
    • Real Estate developments usually a great fit in meeting/surpassing the employment requirements, so the investor doesn’t have to worry about job creation.
  • For a new commercial enterprise not located within a regional center, the new commercial enterprise must directly create the full-time positions to be counted. This means that the new commercial enterprise (or its wholly owned​ subsidiaries) must itself be the employer of the qualifying employees.
  • For a new commercial enterprise located within a regional center, the new commercial enterprise can directly or indirectly create the full-time positions. Up to 90% of the job creation requirement for regional center investors may be met using indirect jobs. 
    • Direct jobs establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.
    • Indirect jobs are held outside of the new commercial enterprise, but are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.
  • In the case of a troubled business, the EB-5 investor may rely on job maintenance. 
    • The investor must show that the number of existing employees is, or will be, no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years.


  • A troubled business is one that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period before the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20% of the troubled business’ net worth before the loss. When determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, USCIS will consider successors in interest to the troubled business when evaluating whether they have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
  • A qualifying employee is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States, including a conditional resident, temporary resident, asylee, refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include immigrant investors; their spouses, sons, or daughters; or any noncitizen in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B nonimmigrant) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.
  • Full-time employment means employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the regional center program, full-time employment also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.
    • A job-sharing arrangement where two or more qualifying employees share a full-time position will count as full-time employment provided the hourly requirement per week is met. This definition does not include combinations of part-time positions even if, when combined, the positions meet the hourly requirement per week.
    • Jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient do not qualify as permanent full-time jobs. However, jobs that are expected to last at least two years are generally not considered intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient

Real Estate Investments

As noted, investments in projects that easily employ a good number of employees makes meeting this job creation requirement easier.

EB-5 Requirements

  • Invest $1.05 million in a qualifying commercial enterprise, or
  • A minimum investment of $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with the promise of creating at least 10 full-time jobs for US citizens within two years
  • The investment must benefit the US economy by providing goods or services to domestic markets


  • The investment must be sourced through legal means and must not be borrowed 
  • You can invest in the form of cash or cash equivalents like certificates of deposit and treasury bonds
  • Moreover, it can also be done through an inventory or other tangible property secured as an asset by the individual

Documents Needed (not an exhaustive list)

  • Evidence of establishment of a new commercial enterprise (NCE), which must include:
  • As applicable, organizational documents of the NCE
  • Project documents, which may include: Transactional documents for the project
  • Valid Passport
  • Copies of Passport pages for all family members
  • Evidence of previous applications for immigration
  • Criminal record 
  • Business ownership documents
  • Business License(s) 
  • Evidence as to the source of the investment sum
  • Detailed business plan
  • Organizational documents and partnership agreement
  • Title/Position statement and duty descriptions
  • Bank Statements and Tax Returns (last 5 years)
  • Documentation of any sources of capital
  • Approved I-526 petition proving that the investment process is initiated

Required Evidence - not an exhaustive list -
 (project invested in can streamline this process)

    • Evidence of petitioner’s investment in the NCE
    • Evidence of property transferred from abroad for use by the NCE including, but not limited to: 
      • U.S. Customs and Border Protection commercial entry documents 
      • Bills of lading 
      • Transit insurance policies containing ownership information and information to identify the property and indicate its fair market value. 
      • Evidence of money transferred or committed to the NCE in exchange for shares of stock, which stock may not include terms requiring the NCE to  redeem it at the holder’s request 
      • Evidence of any loan or mortgage agreement, promissory note, security agreement, or other evidence of borrowing secured by the petitioner’s assets (other than those of the NCE), and for which the petitioner is personally and primarily liable 
    • Evidence of business activity of the NCE
    • Evidence the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), when applicable
    • Evidence the petitioner’s funds are from a lawful source 
    • Evidence of the path of petitioner’s funds from the source to the NCE
    • Evidence the NCE will create (or maintain in the case of a troubled business) the required number of jobs for qualifying employees, which must include:
    • A comprehensive business plan showing the need for not fewer than 10 qualifying employees and when such employees will be hired; or 
    • For employees already hired:
      • Relevant tax records 
      • Forms I-9; or 
      • other similar documents 
    • Evidence the petitioner is or will be engaged in management of the NCE, either through the exercise of day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation

Legal Steps

  • Apply to USCIS (US Immigration) by filing a I-526 Petition for “Alien Entrepreneur” 
    • Processing times are country dependent and generally lengthy for this first step.
  • Second step depends if you’re inside or outside of the U.S. (will cover both in the following slides)

Applying from Outside of the USA

  • File the I-526 Petition 
  • USCIS Approves
  • Case is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC)
  • You pay the fee to NVC 
  • Submit necessary papers online 
  • DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application
  • Attend a visa interview at your local Consulate or Embassy.
  • Thereafter, you’re eligible to enter the U.S. on an EB-5 immigrant visa
  • Conditional Green Card (two year validity) 
  • After you arrive, in 21 months, file I-829 Petition and apply for unconditional permanent residency. (more details on this step on next slides)

Applying from inside the U.S.

  • File the I-526 Petition (same as from outside)
  • You file a Petition for Adjustment of Status (I-485)-assuming visa number availability 
  • Once the application has been approved, you will receive a conditional Green Card (valid for two years). 
  • Remaining steps are the same. 

Conditional “Green Card”

  • Keep in mind originally this Legal Permanent Status/Card “Green Card” is conditional (two years).
  • 90 days before the two years is up, you are able to apply to “remove Conditions” on your Permanent Resident Card/Status. 
    • Processing times are delayed and vary currently
  • Once approved this grants you an unconditional Green Card.

Residency to Naturalization (Citizenship)

  • If you meet physical presence and continuous residence requirements then in less than 5 years you can apply for Naturalization to get a U.S. Passport. 
    • You can apply four years and nine months after the issue date of your card.

Fees & Costs

    • Filing Fees (USCIS, NVC, Embassy…)

    USCIS Filing fees:

    Initial: $3,675+

    Removal of Conditions: $3,750+

    *USCIS/Embassy/NVC fees subject to change 

    • Attorneys Fees
    • Misc. Fees (Regional Center, Investment pool fees, etc.)

Some of the Benefits of a “Green Card”

  • Spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are part of the petition (receive Green Cards)
  • Allows you to permanently live and work in the U.S.
  • Attend school (without International Student fees)
  • You get a Social Security number and all benefits of a U.S. residency
  • Your family members eventually could qualify for residency
  • Travel, work, and live anywhere in the U.S.
  • Eligible for federal/government benefits that apply to you
  • After 5 years you can have a U.S. Passport
  • Other non-immigrant status eventually expires or you have to always reapply to extend, renew, etc.

Other Benefits

  • Keep in mind:
    • You don’t need to have a job offer lined up or a labor certification
    • It’s not necessary to reveal your net worth
    • You don’t need to be highly involved during the process, unlike E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Program which requires you to run the business.

  • Additionally:
    • If you’re here on other type of work or investment visas you’re limited as to where you can work, no limitations as a Green Card holder
    • If children are attending school (student visa) in the U.S. they have high international tuitions and very limited as to work, hours allowed, etc. No such limitations if they become Green Card Holders

Processing Time Concerns

  • E-1/E-2 Treaty Investor Visas available for some countries (U.K., Australia, Turkey, etc. for example if you hold a passport). For example E-2 Investor Visa:
    • Much lower investment amounts into a business
    • You have to be 50% or more owner
    • You have to be involved in operating a real enterprise
    • Similar to EB-5 it has to be business that is at risk (not purchasing a residence for example)
    • You can later adjust your status with an EB-5 investment (into same or different business) from within the U.S.
  • If you’re in the U.S. in other non-immigrant status, you can possibly do the same (adjustment of status-refer to slide) for a shorter initial/first step processing time.

Green Card valid for two years only?

  • Initially, yes. However,
  • once you complete the steps and  land in the U.S. you will be given a  Green Card/Residency that is good for two years.
  • Thereafter, assuming your investment is continued and meets the requirements you file with USCIS to remove those conditions.
  • Once approved, you’re given an unconditional Green Card.

Residency only valid for 10 years?

  • No!
  • The actual card (“Green Card”) now  has an expiration date (such as Driver’s License and passport, etc.), however, your residency does NOT expire and you do NOT need to reapply.
    • *You have to meet residency conditions, such as physical presence and continued residence (meaning you cannot use your Green Card as a visa just to come visit once a year for example)
  • You can apply for a passport within 5 years, or whenever you qualify (after the initial two years your card is unconditional)

Processing Times Will USCIS speed up in 2023?

Latest News- Forbes (2023) 
“Why EB-5 Immigrant Investors May Be Facing An Opportunity Of A Lifetime”

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyjsemotiuk/2023/01/11/why-eb-5-immigrant-investors-may-be-facing-an-opportunity-of-a-lifetime/?sh=897b57d47edb
  • The Reform and Integrity Act passed in March of 2022 re-established the EB-5 regional center investor immigration program …However, until now those investors were troubled by long backlogs that made the program untenable in many cases due to the long waiting periods involved. Not anymore, however. 
  • …the invested funds must create at least 10 new jobs within a period of about 2.5 years from when the petition is approved. Under the program, not only direct jobs but indirect jobs can be counted and economic studies are filed showing how a given project creates these indirect jobs. This is one of the best reasons why the regional center program is so successful. The regional center project must document how it will create at least 10 new jobs for each investor and the investor must document a lawful source and path of funds being invested. The two documented parts are filed together with the investor petition to start the process. The filing date of an I-526E petition for the investor is very important because it determines the priority date for the investor in the processing of applications. The money is tied up for a period of about five years with little or no interest paid on it.”

“Especially Useful To Investors Already In The USA”

  • The EB-5 program is particularly useful to international students already in the USA, H1B workers, people with O, L visa status, and certain high net worth foreigners as well as even certain visitors to the USA. That is because the new act enables such individuals to file an application to adjust their status from within the United States to permanent resident status and to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) as well as a travel document. While this is not possible for visitors who come to the USA with the intent to apply for permanent residence from inside, it is possible for those who come here for different reasons and then decide to apply. 
    • This so-called concurrent filing is not available to those who enter the USA on ESTA, however.
  • But even investors who wish to apply from abroad will be able to benefit from the opportunity being presented although National Visa Center and overseas consular processing will take extra time before they will be able to arrive in the U.S.”

“Visa Set-asides”

  • “The key development that is making everything possible is the creation of certain reserved visas, also called set-asides, that have been designated as priority areas for investment. That means those who invest in these areas, that is to say the rural projects (outside cities in areas with less than 20,000 people), high unemployment areas (with unemployment over 150 percent of the national average), and infrastructure areas will be processed on a priority basis, even ahead of those investors who are already lined up to be processed. Investors who invest in these set-asides go to the front of the line, (even Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese investors), and they can all expect to be approved in say 2 to 3 years.”
  • “All these visa areas are current in the relevant State Department’s Visa Bulletin and are expected to stay that way for the rest of the 2023 fiscal year. Indeed, experts in the EB-5 area expect almost 11,000 unused visas to be available to EB-5 investor immigrants and their families in the 2023 fiscal year ending September 30th. That should be enough to make it possible for almost all applicants who apply for these set-asides at this time up until the end of September to qualify.
  • Indeed, according to Charlie Oppenheimer, currently an advisor with WR Immigration law firm and previously the person counting visas for the State Department under the EB-5 program, this year will be a unique year for the EB-5 program unlikely to be available again for foreign investors. Even those investors who are currently in the USA and have long ago filed their I-526 petitions can file for adjustment of status with a copy of their receipt notice evidencing the previously filed EB-5 petition.”

“Time To Act Now”

“In short, this is an outstanding time to apply to immigrate to the United States as a foreign investor. The door is open for the next eight months. It will take investors time to identify a suitable EB-5 regional center project, collect their funds, prepare the paperwork and establish the bona fides of their investments. This is the time to start.”

Andy J. Semotiuk Contributor, Jan 11, 2023

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