The EB-5 Immigrant Investor/stakeholder Program, administered by USCIS, was established by Congress in 1990 to increase the U.S. financial management through job conception and capital venture from foreign Investor/ stakeholder.

Regional Center Program

  • Initiated as a pilot in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since
  • Allows Investor/ stakeholders to qualify for EB-5 classification by investing in USCIS-designated regional centers that promote economic growth
  • Extended through September 30, 2027, under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act contracted by President Biden in the year 2022

EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act

  • Fragment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022
  • Announced latest prerequisite for the EB-5 immigrant visa category and the Regional Center Program

USCIS Policy Manual

  • EB-5 adjudication policies are detailed in Volume 6, Part G
  • Relevant to petitions filed both before and after the endorsement of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act
  • Continually updated to reflect new provisions

Investment Requirements

  • Investors/ stakeholders must invest in a new commercial enterprise established:
  • After November 29, 1990, or
  • On/formerly November 29, 1990, if:
  • The prevailing line of work/business is restructured or reorganized, resultant in a new marketable enterprise, or
  • The business expands, resulting in at least a 40% rise in net value or number of employees.

Definition of a New Commercial Enterprise

  • Any for- profit exertion formed for the ongoing conduct of legal business, including:
  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership (limited or general)
  • Holding company and its wholly possessed accessories
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust
  • Limited liability company
  • Other realities, whether intimately or intimately possessed
  • Excludes non-commercial activities, such as owning and operating a personal residence

Additional Resources

  • Detailed USCIS policy on EB-5 adjudications can be found in the USCIS Policy Manual.

Program Overview

The USCIS accomplishes the EB-5 Immigrant Investor/ stakeholder Program. This program permits stockholders, along with their partners/ spouses and unmarried children underneath 21, to apply for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) if they meet assured necessities.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Investment: Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States.
  • Job Creation: Design to produce or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

Overview of the EB-5 Petition and Application Process

Initial Petition

  • Forms to File:
    • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Impartial Investor/ stakeholder
    • Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor/ stakeholder

Concurrent Filing

  • Immediate Visa Availability:
  • If an immigrant visa is instantly accessible, you may file Form I-485, Submission of Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • This can be done simultaneously with your Form I-526 or Form I-526E, while it is pending, or after it is approved.
  • Check the Visa Availability and Priority Dates and Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Announcement on the USCIS website to ensure a visa is available.

After Petition Approva Options:

  • Applying Abroad: File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to acquire an EB-5 visa for entrance fee to the U.S.
  • Adjusting Status in the U.S.: File Form I-485 with USCIS (if not already filed) to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the U.S.

Conditional Permanent Residence

  • Grant of Status:
    • Upon approval of Form I-485 or admission with an EB-5 visa, conditional permanent residence is granted for two years to the EB-5 Investor/ stakeholder and derivative family members.

Removing Conditions

  • Form I-829:
    • File Petition by Investor/stakeholder to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status within the 90-day period before the second anniversary of obtaining conditional permanent residence.
    • If approved, USCIS will remove the conditions from your permanent resident status and that of your dependents.


EB-5 Visa Purpose

The EB-5 visa enables foreign nationals to obtain a green card by investing in a "new commercial enterprise" in the United States. This program allows foreign nationals, their spouses, and unmarried children under 21 to secure a U.S. visa grounded on a minimal investment in a for-profit business that creates or retains a specified number of jobs.

Investment Requirements

  • TEA Investment: $800,000
  • Standard Investment: $1,050,000
  • Job Creation: Essentially create or persistence at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers, exclusive of the Investor/ stakeholder and their immediate family.

Conditional Permanent Residence

  • Approval: Upon approval of the Investor/ stakeholder's petition, the Investor/stakeholder and their dependents receive conditional permanent residence for two years.
  • Condition Removal: Within the 90-day period before the conditional residence expires, Investor/stakeholders must provide evidence that the full investment has been made and that 10 jobs have been sustained or will be formed within a sensible time.

Investment Trends

  • Commercial Real Estate: Many EB-5 investments target commercial real estate projects, which create jobs through construction and later in the service industry (e.g., hotels, restaurants, resorts, stadiums).

Demographics of Investor/stakeholders

  • Study Findings (2022): Most EB-5 visa recipients are Chinese millionaires. Individuals from less developed countries and authoritarian states are more likely to obtain these visas. This trend suggests that Investor/ stakeholder visas serve as a hedge against the risks associated with authoritarian regimes, providing a grip in a constant and democratic nation.

2019 Regulation Changes

  • USCIS Regulations: New regulations effective November 21, 2019, transferred the authority to designate regional centers from states to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This aims to prevent gerrymandering of Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs).
  • Support for Changes: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) supported the 2019 changes, especially regarding TEA designations to reduce fraud in the program.

Impact of Regulation Changes

  • Shift in Development Locations: According to Barron's, the 2019 changes are likely to move developments from wealthy areas to more rural and distressed regions. The EB-5 program historically generates around $5 billion annually for 10,000 visas, often financing high-end condominium developments.

Outline of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor/ stakeholder Visa Program

Program Background

  • Creation: Established by the Immigration Act of 1990.
  • Purpose: Allows eligible immigrant Investor/stakeholders to become lawful permanent residents ("green card" holders) by investing substantial capital in a U.S. business that creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. workers and work-authorized immigrants.

Investment Requirements

  • Standard Investment: $1,050,000.
  • Reduced Investment: $800,000 for investments in qualifying infrastructure projects or Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), which include rural areas or areas with high unemployment.

Visa Categories

  • Set-Aside Visas: Available for investments in:
  • Infrastructure projects
  • High-employment areas
  • Rural areas

Investment Options

  • Direct Investment: Investor/stakeholders can invest directly in a U.S. business.
  • Regional Centers: Investor/stakeholders can join larger investment pools through USCIS-approved regional centers, which connect foreign Investor/stakeholders with U.S. developers needing funding.

Regional Centers

  • Approval: Must be approved by USCIS, a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Function: Facilitate investments and take a commission.
  • Current Status: As of April 4, 2023, there are 640 approved regional centers.
  • Significance: The majority of EB-5 visas are granted through regional centers, which can create jobs indirectly through economic activity.

Program Impact

  • Capital Source: By 2015, the EB-5 program had become a crucial capital source for developers and regional centers.
  • Investor/ stakeholder Demographics: As of April 23, 2020, 78,278 Investor/stakeholders had applied. The majority, about 80%, come from China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, with significant numbers also from Vietnam, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria.
  • Visa Issuance: In 2014, 85% of the 10,692 EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals.

Legislative Updates

  • Extensions:
    • December 20, 2019: President Trump extended the Regional Center Program through September 30, 2020.
    • March 15, 2022: President Biden extended the program through September 30, 2027, under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act.

EB-5 Regional Center Investment Projects

Hotel and Multi-Use Developments

  • Notable Projects: Hilton, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, and Starwood's SLS Hotel & Casino have been financed with EB-5 investments.
  • Successful Example: Hudson Yards in Manhattan was highlighted by Forbes in 2016 as a prime example of a successful EB-5 investment project.

Southern California Projects

  • Europa Village: Located in Temecula.
  • Hilton Garden Inn: Situated in El Monte.
  • JW Marriott Hotel: Part of the L.A. live in multifaceted in downtown Los Angeles.

Major Infrastructure Projects

  • I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike Connector: Recently completed, this project finalized the extended north-south course in the Interstate Highway System. Interstate 95, stretching from Maine to Florida, serves over 110 million people and covers 10 percent of the total U.S. land area. The development began under the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956.

EB-5 Direct Investment Projects

Independent Investment Ventures

  • Popular Among Investor/stakeholders: Select Investor/stakeholders, particularly from India, choose to invest in their own projects.
  • Types of Projects: Include franchised restaurants, hotels, healthcare providers, preschools, and other independent businesses.
  • Investment Structure: Funds can be pooled, but Investor/stakeholders characteristically have a regulatory, mainstream interest in the business.
  • Increased Demand: As of July 2021, demand for direct investment opportunities has surged due to the reduced investment threshold of $500,000 and the expiration of the regional center program.

Conversion from E2 to EB-5 Visa

  • Franchise Investment: It is possible to start with an E2 visa by investing as little as $100,000 in a franchise.
  • Conversion Criteria: Investor/stakeholders can convert to an EB-5 visa if they meet the job creation and investment requirements.

Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)

Definition and Requirements

  • Original Law: The initial EB-5 legislation required investments to be made in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
  • Criteria: TEAs are defined as either rural areas or provinces with a unemployment rate at minimum 150% of the national average.

Evolution and Gerrymandering

  • State Designations: States and regions, eager for development, have become adept at crafting TEAs to gain USCIS approval.
  • Policy Change: According to a 2014 Fortune article, USCIS policy began to automatically accept state designations of TEAs, even if they included  gerrymandering districts linking high-unemployment areas to wealthier regions.

Controversies and Criticisms

  • New York Example: Concerns were raised in 2011 about gerrymandering in New York, where upscale areas qualified for TEA status.
  • China City Program: Faced local opposition due to its use of EB-5 funds.
  • Marriott Projects: Marriott’s EB-5-funded projects in affluent areas, including Washington D.C., were criticized for contradicting the original TEA spirit.

Specific Projects

  • Marriott Marquis Hotel: Opened in June 2014 in D.C., funded partly by EB-5 investments from Chinese nationals who earned green cards in return.
  • City Market at O: A D.C. development that used $97 million of EB-5 funds, securing green cards for nearly 200 foreigners.

Simplified TEA Qualification Process

  • 2014 Simplification: The American Immigration Lawyers Association noted a simplified requirement: creating 10 U.S. jobs with a $500,000 investment.
  • Investor/stakeholder Options: Investor/stakeholders can submit their own statistics for USCIS to determine TEA status if the proposed business location is not initially a TEA.

Recent Regulatory Changes

  • Modernization Regulation: Published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 24, 2019, and effective from November 21, 2019, these regulations brought significant changes to TEA qualification.

State-Specific TEA Lists

  • Centralized List: Centralized list of TEAs is not provided.
  • State Lists: California, Florida, and Washington maintain their own lists of TEAs. Washington State’s Employment Security Department designates areas with high unemployment rates (HUAs) that qualify for the EB-5 visa.

Regulatory Bodies

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

  • Fundamental Requirement: According to a Reuters interview on May 12, 2017, the investment must remain at risk throughout conditional residency. Failure to provide evidence of meeting this requirement may result in petition denial.
  • Commitment to Compliance: USIF affirmed its dedication to strict adherence to securities and all applicable laws.

SEC Oversight of EB-5 Offerings

  • Regulatory Scope: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) categorizes certain "EB-5 offerings" as securities covered by U.S. securities laws.
  • Legal Obligations: Companies and individuals involved in selling EB-5 investments are obligated to avoid defrauding investors, making false claims, or omitting relevant information.
  • Limitations: However, the SEC has limited jurisdiction to pursue fraud claims when both the funds solicited and the investors are located overseas.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

  • Guideline Setting: USCIS establishes guidelines for EB-5 projects and ensures compliance with immigration regulations.
  • Capital Risk Requirement: According to EB-5 visa guidelines, investors must risk their capital, and obtaining a green card is not guaranteed.
  • Regional Center Evaluation: USCIS also assesses approvals for regional centers to ensure adherence to regulations.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended to offer a general overview of the EB-5 Visa process. Candidates are advised to conduct their own thorough research and consult with legal or immigration professionals before making any decision of taking any actions based on this information. The requirements and regulations for the EB-5 Visa Program may change . and individual circumstances can significantly impact the application process and outcomes. We do not assume any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information presented and strongly encourage prospective applicants to verify details independently and seek expert guidance tailored to their specific situation.