The challenging immigration climate under the Trump administration has also impacted the employment-based fifth-category visa, most commonly known as the EB-5 investors visa. This special visa has been around for a while, but it became a hot topic of national interest in the midst of the Great Recession, and that interest has been rekindled over the last two years.
In essence, the EB-5 program seeks to promote foreign investment and business growth. Some people call it the “million-dollar visa” because that specific amount of money is one of the investment requirements. However, foreign investors who inject $500,000 and create 12 new jobs in a targeted employment area are also eligible. Although EB-5 visas focus on investment and job creation, they clearly serve an immigration purpose, since approved applicants, as well as their spouses and dependent children, receive green cards and the prospect of applying for naturalization benefits five years down the line.
EB-5 visas have been the subject of great controversy. The program was supposed to have been suspended this year amid political pressure from both anti-immigration advocates and critics who believe White House staff—in particular, the President’s daughter and son-in-law—may have facilitated EB-5 visas for preferred Chinese investors. Despite the contentious political interests, there has not yet been a suspension of the EB-5 visa. San Diego investors should be aware that the program has been extended until December 5th. Here are a few aspects of this program that prospective applicants should become familiar with:
- This is not a “buy a second passport” program like the ones some Caribbean island nations offer to wealthy foreigners. Real investments must be made, business plans must be executed, and jobs must be created.
- With the above in mind, applicants should know the funds they put to work in the U.S. will carry some level of risk, just as with any other investment. The American economy is very strong, but this doesn’t guarantee business success. Should the business fail because of an economic downturn, poor management, or bad luck, applicants don’t have to worry about their immigration status being compromised. In other words, business success isn’t a requirement.
- Once EB-5 applicants receive their green cards, they’ll be expected to establish permanent residence in the U.S., which means they cannot spend most of their time out of the country.
- Some aspects of various immigration programs (e.g., family-based visa applications) can be managed by the applicants themselves, but this isn’t possible with the EB-5 program, which must be handled by immigration attorneys. San Diego residents should be aware that in addition to processing the application, econometric studies and other business requirements must be completed, and the legal fees may be higher as a result.
- In light of the current challenges related to the H-1B employment visa program, EB-5 visas are emerging as a potential alternative strategy. H-1B workers who believe their visas won’t be renewed may want to check with their parents and relatives who are in a position to gift them the required funds to apply for the EB-5 program. The advantage in this regard is that admissibility would be easier to establish.
Get in touch with KS Visa Law if you’d like more information on issues dealing with immigration, including EB-5 visas. We specialize in every aspect of immigration law, from naturalization to family-based immigration. Call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment with one of our immigration law experts.