By Carol Carter
Every year 10,000 slots open up for foreigners to “buy” their way into a green card. The EB-5 visa is a program administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a federal agency, to allow foreign investors the opportunity to invest with the goal of obtaining legal permanent residence in the US. There are some pretty stringent requirements for those looking to go this route. Besides being expensive (between $500,000 and $1,000,000) it involves the considerable risk of starting a business that does well enough to be able to employ ten eligible Americans within a period of two years. During the time that the business is being managed these investors can live in the country while growing their company. Within 90 days of the two year mark, they must submit a petition proving they have satisfied the requirements of the program.
Just A Million, You Say?
While you and I may not have a cool million lying around, this route has proven to be the way to go for many thousands of investors since 1990. Since then, the rules have changed slightly to include “Regional Centers”, via a provision signed into law in 1992. Every time the provision has come up for renewal it has been extended for another three years. Most recently this occurred in September of 2012. This law allows investors to put their money into a company run by a third-party and still get credit for the jobs that it creates. The provision allows for counting “indirect jobs” created from the actions of the company towards the quota as well. This change was introduced to boost interest in this particular investment visa, and so far it looks like it has been working.
Many of the businesses started are hotels or motels, manufacturing companies, technology start-ups, farms, restaurants and others. The ten people the business creates jobs for must not be the investor’s family in order to qualify towards the requirement. Suddenly the interest for the general public opens right up when it comes to this sort of policy.
Free Foreign Venture Capital
The effects of such a program go beyond directly building businesses. Infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and water management projects can and have benefited from creative investment companies partnering with interested parties. In fact, entirely new investment firms have been created to serve this new niche.
In 2008 Marriott International used $88 million from foreigners interested in obtaining a green card to build a high-end hotel in Seattle. The number of investors was ridiculously low, with those being presented with the data in disbelief that a mere 100 investors could generate the funds necessary. A similar project took flight in Los Angeles when city planners were having a difficult time finding interested parties to build an adequate hotel downtown. The mayor was seemingly out of options to find a solution to alleviate the lack of hospitality facilities when money acquired via foreign nationals appeared to save the day.
It may seem like a buy-your-green-card scheme, but investors do take on a significant risk of losing their hard-earned cash chasing the pipe dream of American residence. Indeed, a $500,000 loss is not very pretty in such uncertain economic times. Yet many still invest intent on the reality of permanent settlement in the US. With the benefit of jobs for Americans, the program appears to be a big success at little risk for the public at large.
Guest Author Bio:
Carol Carter is a writer and immigration policy analyst. She has covered various topics related to immigration following an experience helping a friend become a naturalized citizen. She has used EB5Investors platform to inform colleagues of visa requirements and changes.
Disclaimer: Guests posts do not necessarily express the viewpoint of the Law Office of Andre Olivie. Guests posts and blog posts are meant for general informational purposes only and not meant to be taken as legal-advice. Speak with an immigration attorney about legal advice specific to your situation.