Eligibility for a U.S. Investor Visa

The EB-5 visa program is meant to encourage foreign investment in the U.S., create jobs and provide opportunities for non-citizens to be granted permanent residency status (known as a “green card”). The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) administers the program, which covers not only investors but their spouses and unmarried children under 21.

To qualify for the program, the investor needs to:

  • Make sufficient investments in a commercial enterprise in the U.S., and
  • Plan to create or preserve at least ten full time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

The program was created in 1990 in hopes of improving the U.S. economy through job creation and foreign capital investment. Two years later, Congress enacted the Immigrant Investor Program (or the Regional Center Program). This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants investing in commercial enterprises connected to regional centers approved by USCIS.

Investors must put their resources into a new commercial enterprise (any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business) with the following criteria:

  • Established after November 29, 1990, or
  • Established on or before November 29, 1990, that’s an existing business that’s restructured or reorganized so it becomes a new commercial enterprise or is expanded because of the investment so there’s at least a 40% increase in the business’s net worth or in the number of employees.

  • Cash
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • A promissory note, under certain circumstances
  • Other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the investor, as long as the investor is personally and primarily liable for the debt and the assets of the new commercial enterprise are not used to secure any of the debt.

Capital needs to be valued at fair market value in U.S. dollars. Assets acquired by unlawful means (such as by committing crimes) aren’t considered capital for the program. The immigrant investor must show that he or she is the legal owner of the capital invested. The required minimum investment is $1 million unless the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area), where the minimum is $500,000.

Generally, at least ten new jobs need to be created or maintained to qualify;  how those jobs are counted varies.

  • For a new commercial enterprise ​not in a regional center​,​ ​the full-time jobs need to be created​ directly by the business which employs these workers.​ ​​
  • For a new commercial enterprise within a regional center, the f​ull-time positions ​can be created​ either directly or indirectly by the business. It directly employs these people or it can show that because of the business’s operation ten new jobs are created elsewhere.
  • If the business receiving the investment is considered “troubled,” the investor need only maintain existing jobs for at least two years.

If you live in Kentucky, or plan on investing here and you have questions about applying for an EB-5 visa, fill out our contact form or call us at (859) 971-0060 so we can discuss the legal process, the applicable law and how we can help.