When I travel the world I often ask people if they know about the US EB-5 visa, or employment-based fifth preference category. Interestingly, most people don’t know that it provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents — informally known as “green card” holders — by investing at least $1,000,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.
Most immigrant investors who use the EB-5 program invest in a targeted employment area (TEA), a rural area or area with high unemployment — which lowers the investment threshold to $500,000.
Since the creation of the EB-5 Program, Chinese citizens were the leading investors that utilized the EB-5 program taking about 80 percent of the approximately 10,000 visa numbers allocated to EB-5 investors per year. Following China, investors from India, Vietnam and Singapore have been investing in the program in significant numbers. However, with the recent growth of individuals with high net worth from Africa, the region is playing a more active role in the EB-5 Investor Program. Over the past three years, the number of EB-5 petitions filed by African investors increased rapidly, with Nigeria leading the way, followed by South Africa and Egypt.
ndeed, there is no other program in the world like the EB-5 program in the U.S. Many countries offer investment immigration programs that compete with the EB 5 visa program, such as Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand. However, the required investment amounts for these four programs are significantly higher than the EB-5 visa, ranging from approximately $750,000 to over $4.5 million. All these exceed the $500,000 minimum for the EB-5 USA program.
There are two forms of investment under the EB 5 visa program: the individual investment program and the Regional Center investment option. The individual investment program supports a stand-alone investment in a single entity, while the Regional Center program creates larger projects for funding by multiple investors. EB-5 Regional Centers offer projects in TEA areas and manages the project on behalf of the investor, which is why many investors prefer to invest with a Regional Center project however, some investors prefer the individual investment option, which allows for more control and management in a business and may provide higher investment returns. At the end of the day, due diligence and working with a highly qualified attorney is essential in selecting a Regional Center or individual project.
By Simone Williams for THE HILL
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