The EB-5 Visa Program allows foreigners who invest money in the U.S. to receive a green card if they meet certain criteria. Administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this program also allows the investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 to receive a green card. The EB-5 Visa creates economic outlets not only for international investors, but also for domestic real estate, manufacturing, and sports/entertainment entrepreneurs.
The Necessary “Sparks” for an EB-5 Investment
For investors to be eligible for the EB-5 Visa, their investments must be:
1. in a for-profit company that is either
a. established after November 29, 1990, or
b. established on or before that date and stands to gain a 40% increase in either net worth or employees from the investment,
2. able to create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission into the U.S.,
3. a minimum of
a. $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (i.e., a high-unemployment or rural area), or
b. $1 million outside of a Target Employment Area, and
4. made directly in a commercial enterprise or through one of 847 approved regional centers.
Regional Centers: Economic Power Stations
Regional centers are economic units that create jobs and conduct other activities to promote U.S. economic growth. They can be government agencies, partnerships, corporations, or other commercial entities. Regional centers in the EB-5 Visa program must receive USCIS approval, a process that involves submitting an application with a “project” that must include a business plan and economic analysis.
Investors benefit from working with USCIS-approved regional centers because they can invest in a center instead of starting a new business – a process that can last for a long time. An EB-5-funded project can also present a relocation opportunity for foreign investors who want to move their families to the U.S.
A Surge of EB-5 Visa Projects
The EB-5 Visa Program has been involved in nearly 800 projects to date including schools, hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants. We’ve highlighted two high-profile projects below to illustrate the opportunities that the EB-5 Visa offers to investors and their communities.
Orlando City Stadium
Construction began on the Orlando City Stadium in October 2014. Flávio Augusto da Silva, the majority owner of the Orlando City Soccer Club, originally planned to fund the $155 million project through private and government entities. However, when the state of Florida decided not to finance the stadium, da Silva decided to fund the entire project without government help. So far, he has received $15 million from 30 foreign investors through the EB-5 Visa Program. Additionally, the project is expected to create more than 900 jobs, and the stadium is scheduled to open sometime next year.
Central Park Tower
Extell Development Co. hopes to raise almost $200 million from the EB-5 program to help fund a $2 billion, 182-unit building one block south of Central Park in New York City. At a projected height of 1,550 feet, the complex stands to be the second-tallest building in the U.S. Because New York City is not a Target Development Area, each investor is asked to contribute a minimum of $1 million to the project.
Can the EB-5 Visa Program Electrify Your Business Goals?
Although the EB-5 Visa Program is set to expire September 30, 2016, there is a chance that the USCIS could renew it for another year. In any case, the EB-5 Visa Program gives investors and entrepreneurs the “jolt” they need to accomplish their business goals. Contact CRI if you have any questions about how the EB-5 Visa Program could impact your business plans.