EB-5, also known as Employment Based Fifth Preference, is an official visa category of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). This specific visa class was created in 1990 with the goal of attracting foreign capital investment to stimulate job creation and economic growth in the United States. An EB-5 investor must invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise or in a troubled business in order to create or save at least ten full-time American jobs within a two-year period. This two-year period begins with the approval of an I-526 application by USCIS. During this period, the investor receives a conditional Green Card. After two years, the investor becomes eligible to submit an I-829 application for removal of conditions placed upon his/her Green Card during the 2-year probationary period, and can later apply to become a U.S. citizen.
First enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, a pilot immigration program was established to provide immigrant investors with an opportunity to invest in the United States through approved Regional Centers. Investing through a Regional Center has many advantages for the investors including recommendations for U.S. Immigration attorneys and other professionals, a passive investment that requires little day to day management on the part of the investor, and readily available staff to answer any questions the investor may have. Certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors who invest in commercial enterprises affiliated with Regional Centers.
The Targeted Employment Area (TEA)
Investors applying for an EB-5 visa through a designated Regional Center that is also located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) need only invest $500,000 instead of the normal $1 million if the investment were to be made outside of a TEA. A TEA is a geographic area or political subdivision with higher than an average need for jobs. TEAs within a state are identified and designated by the governor (and for a TEA within the District of Columbia, designation is made by the Mayor). Typically, a Regional Center seeks to encompass one or more TEAs.