Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference EB-5
USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (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; and
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.
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. This 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.
About the EB-5 Visa Classification
Visa Classification Description
USCIS administers the EB-5 program, created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a program initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly reauthorized since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. On Sept. 28, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-245 extending the Regional Center Program through Dec. 7, 2018.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
- Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
- Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
- Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results,
- Expanded through the investment so that at least a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:
- A sole proprietorship
- Partnership (whether limited or general)
- Holding company
- Joint venture
- Business trust, or
- Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.
This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.
Note: This definition does not include non-commercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.
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.
- For a new commercial enterprise not located within a regional center,the full-time positions must be created directly by the new commercial enterprise 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 full-time positions can be created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise.
- Direct jobs are those jobs that establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.
- Indirect jobs are those jobs held outside of the new commercial enterprise but that 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 being,or will be,maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2
A troubled business is a business that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. For purposes of determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to 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, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any non-immigrant status (such as an H-1B non-immigrant) 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 whereby 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 in nature do not qualify as permanent full-time jobs. However, jobs that are expected to last at least 2 years are generally not considered intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature.
Capital Investment Requirements
Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered capital for the purposes of section 203(b) (5) of the Act.
Note: The immigrant investor must establish that he or she is the legal owner of the capital invested. Capital can include the immigrant investor’s promise to pay (a promissory note) under certain circumstances.
Required minimum investments are:
- The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
- Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.
A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.
A rural area is any area not within either a metropolitan statistical area (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 according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.
- File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Following approval of the Form I-526 petition, either:
- File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
- File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa abroad to seek admission to the United States.
Upon the approval of a Form I-485 application or upon admission into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa, the EB-5 investor and derivative family members will be granted conditional permanent residence for a 2-year period.
File Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, within the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of the EB-5 investor’s admission to the United States as a conditional permanent resident.
If USCIS approves this petition, the conditions will be removed from the lawful permanent resident status of the EB-5 investor and any included dependents.
Form I-526 Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur
|Requirements||Supporting Documents (Evidence)*|
|New Commercial Enterprise||Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing in a “for profit” new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
1. Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
2. Expanded through the investment so that at least a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Evidence, if applicable, that the new commercial enterprise has been established and, if you seek eligibility under the reduced investment amount, evidence regarding the targeted employment area (TEA).
|Managing the New Commercial Enterprise||Evidence that you are or will be engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise (either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation).|
|Investment||Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital ($1 million or, if the qualifying investment is within a TEA, $500,000).
Evidence that the investment capital was obtained through lawful means. The petition must be accompanied, as applicable, by:
Foreign business registration records;
Corporate, partnership (or other entity), and personal tax returns, or other tax returns of any kind filed within 5 years, with any taxing jurisdiction in or outside the United States by you or on your behalf;
Evidence identifying any other source of capital; or
Certified copies of any judgments or evidence of all pending civil or criminal actions, governmental administrative proceedings, and any private civil actions (pending or otherwise) involving money judgments against you from any court in or outside the United States within the past 15 years.
|Job Creation||Evidence that the new commercial enterprise will create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees. If the requisite employees have not already been hired, you will need to submit a comprehensive business plan showing that, due to the nature and projected size of the new commercial enterprise, the need for at least 10 qualifying employees will result.|
|Job Preservation–Troubled Business||Evidence that the number of existing employees is being or will be maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2 years. Submit photocopies of tax records; Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification; or other relevant documents for the qualifying employees and a comprehensive business plan in support of the petition.|
Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions
You must submit Form I-829 within the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of your admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident.
|Requirements||Supporting Documents (Evidence)*|
|Investment||Evidence that you invested or are actively in the process of investing in a new commercial enterprise. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, copies of the business’ organizational documents and federal tax returns.
Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to, an audited financial statement or other probative evidence.
Evidence that you have sustained your investment in the new commercial enterprise throughout your 2-year period of conditional permanent residence. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:
Invoices and receipts;
Federal or state income tax returns; and
Federal or state income quarterly tax statements.
|Job Creation||Evidence that you created or will create within a reasonable time 10 full-time jobs for qualifying employees. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:
Relevant tax documents; and
Forms I-9 for employees.
|Job Preservation–Troubled Business||The same documentation for job creation listed above, except the evidence must show that the commercial enterprise maintained the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for the period following the investor’s admission as a conditional permanent resident.|