The Basics of the EB-5 Visa Program
The U.S. Congress created the EB-5 visa category for alien entrepreneurs who invest in job-creating commercial enterprises in America. In exchange for his or her investment, a foreign investor (and his or her family) can, aside from potentially getting a return on his investment, earn legal permanent resident status by way of a green card. Eventually, such an investor may elect to pursue U.S. citizenship. In return, the U.S. benefits from the injection of capital into the economy, and real jobs are created and/or preserved.
The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) estimates that more than 90% of EB-5 investments are based on Regional Centers. A Regional Center is a private corporation or government agency designated by the U.S. government to allow foreign investors to invest capital in specifically defined local economies. A Regional Center assists foreign investors by professionally managing their investment in a designated business.
Regional Center investments have become an increasingly popular source of financing for U.S. developers and entrepreneurs. Since 2003, Regional Centers have invested over $3.1 billion of foreign capital in the U.S. economy resulting in the creation of some 65,000 jobs.
There is an annual allotment of 10,000 EB-5 green cards available each year. In 2007, 793 EB-5 visas were issued. In 2008, 1,443 were approved and 4,191 program-related visas were granted in 2009. Applications for approval to operate as a Regional Center have escalated in a similar manner.