The STEP approach to the U.S. Investor Green Card Program
The EB-5 program is a unique U.S. immigration program for foreign investors who are interested in acquiring a green card to the United States. While many prospective immigrants have to wait years for the chance to enter the United States, foreign investors who choose to participate in the EB-5 program are given preference and a fast track for entry and citizenship. The basic amount required to invest is $1 million, although that amount is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a high unemployment area or a rural region (also known as a Targeted Employment Area or TEA.) Once an investment is made, the investor obtains a conditional two-year green card. Within the 90 day period before the conditional permanent residence expires, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and that 10 jobs have been maintained, created or will be created within a reasonable time period. At the end of the two-year provisional term, the investor must show that they have maintained their investment and have created or saved at least 10 jobs before their status is changed and they become permanent green card holders.
The United States Congress created this employment-based immigrant visa category in 1990 for the purposes of enhancing the U.S. economy and promoting job creation for the American labor force. Since the program’s nascent stages, the restrictions and guidelines for proving the source of foreign investor funds have become more stringent. As a result of the increased transparency and documentation requirements for this program, it is now more imperative than ever for an EB-5 candidate to seek the assistance of an experienced organization, such as STEP, in navigating these regulatory hurdles.
U.S. institutional investors and commercial developers with projects located in high unemployment, rural regions–or what are referred to as “Target Employment Areas” (TEAs)–can attract foreign nationals to invest at the reduced amount of $500,000. The EB-5 program is an attractive source of financing because developers enjoy relatively inexpensive cost of capital–typically paying a 1% to 3% rate of return. Developers using these foreign funds are under less scrutiny to produce high rates of return because the foreign national investors are usually more concerned with obtaining a permanent green card, as opposed to maximizing the return on their investments.
How can foreign investors benefit from STEP?
Although STEP is capable of advising on a multitude of international investment strategies, the EB-5 advisory team specifically focuses on candidates who are seeking to obtain a U.S. Green Card or Citizenship. STEP will work with foreign nationals in paving a successful path to U.S. citizenship and can guide the investor through the myriad of roadblocks within the EB-5 process.In some cases, the foreign investor can elect to practice the Direct Investment Option. This program allows the international investor to start their own commercial enterprise in the U.S., as opposed to funding an existing development project. In these instances, many of the same guidelines would need to be in place for a successful petition.
In all cases, STEP will assist in certifying the documentation necessary for an EB-5 petition. The lawful source of investment funds needs to be clearly substantiated with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office, and in many cases, is the pivotal issue that could determine whether an application is approved or denied. To ensure the success of the entire process, STEP also works with its foreign national clients on filing the application for conditional permanent residency, the condition removal petition, and ultimately, where requested, an application for naturalization for U.S. citizenship.
How can American business benefit form STEP?
For an American business to thrive with the EB-5 program, a transparent and trustworthy investment engine needs to be created. With the use of financial analysts and attorneys, STEP can build the infrastructure necessary to invite foreign investment. Where appropriate, STEP will file applications for the development of new regional centers or projects. Alternatively, STEP can include an American business venture within their portfolio of recommended investments for foreign nationals. STEP is always looking to build or find reputable investments for their foreign investor clientele.
EB-5 Visa Requirement Summary
- $1 million capital investment, or $500,000 in a rural or high unemployment area.
- The investment must be made in a new commercial enterprise.
- The investment must create 10 full-time U.S. jobs for two years.