Investor Visa

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The EB-5 Visa is sometimes referred to as an Investor Visa.  Investor Visas were made available through a program administered by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Created in 1990, the program was designed to stimulate the US economy via capital investment by foreign investors and job creation.

The Investor Visa program was established in 1992 and has since been reauthorized on a regular basis.  Certain of these visas are designated for investors in Regional Centers.  Under the USCIS rules, all investors with an Investor Visa must be investors in a new commercial enterprise.  In order to be considered a new commercial enterprise, these enterprises must have been either established after November 29, 1990 or, if established on or before November 29, 1990, the investors must have purchased the existing business and reorganized it so that a new commercial enterprise results or have expanded so that there was a 40 % increase in the net worth or number of employees.

What is a commercial enterprise?

A commercial enterprise, for the purposes of an Investor Visa, means a for-profit activity established to conduct lawful business.  This can include a limited or general partnership; a sole proprietorship; a corporation; a joint venture; or a business trust or other privately owned entity.  Non-commercial activities, such as the ownership and operation of a personal residence, are not included in this definition.

What are the Job Creation Requirements for an Investor Visa?

In order to qualify for an Investor Visa, immigrant investors must create or preserve a minimum of 10 full-time jobs or qualifying United States workers within 2 years of admission to the US. Investor Visa holders enter the US as conditional permanent residents.  Another requirement is to create or preserve direct or indirect jobs.  Direct jobs are those in the commercial enterprise within the enterprise that the Investor Visa-holding investor has invested his or her capital.  If the investor is affiliated with a regional center, he or she may use indirect jobs in order to fulfill the requirements of holding an Investor Visa.

Investors may be credited only with the preservation of jobs within a troubled business.  A troubled business is one that has existed at least 2 years and had incurred a net loss in the 12 or 24 month period prior to the investor’s filing a Form I-526.

For the purposes of Investor Visas, a qualified employee is defined as a US citizen, permanent US resident, or other immigrant who is qualified to work in the US.  This means that the worker cannot be a refugee, an asylee, or be under suspension of deportation.

Full time employment means working at least 35 hours a week, but a job-sharing arrangement in which two workers meet the requirements of a full-time job is acceptable.

Capital Investment Requirements

The capital investment requirements for the Investor Visa holder include cash, inventory, equipment, and other assets owned by the immigrant investor.  All capital is valued in fair-market US dollars.  Generally, the minimum qualifying investment is $1.8 million and cannot be borrowed.  For a targeted employment area (an area of high unemployment or a rural area), $900,000 US dollars is the minimum qualifying investment.

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