Excerpt of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President-Elect, Anastasia Tonello's AILA Leadership Blog post on the EB-5 Program. Follow the link for the complete post.
What is an EB-5 visa?
It is an employment-based immigrant category that enables foreign nationals to qualify for green cards based on investment and employment creation in the United States. To be granted an EB-5 visa, a foreign national may invest $1 million in a U.S. business and employ 10 U.S. workers or invest $500,000 in either an area of high unemployment or through the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program. Projects included in the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program must be able to promote economic growth in a geographic region of the U.S. through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.
Is it something new?
Well, no, the EB-5 category has been available since 1993, but was not widely used until 2009 when the program underwent policy changes that attracted the attention of property developers and local governments to help raise funds for infrastructure projects. Use of the program doubled from approximately 1,500 EB-5 visas issued in 2010 to approximately 3,000 in 2011, and then more than doubling again in 2012 to issuing upwards of 6,500 EB-5 visas. Currently, approximately 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued annually, nearly 7,000 of which are issued to Chinese nationals. Successful EB-5 funded projects include Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, Brooklyn’s Pacific Park (Atlantic Yards), San Francisco’s Hunters Point Shipyard, and Las Vegas’ SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. EB-5 funding provided much needed capital to these and other projects which may not have otherwise been able to break ground.
Where does the EB-5 visa fit in with our immigration system?
Overall, the number of EB-5 visas issued is small, with fewer than 2% of all immigrant visas issued allocated to EB-5 investors. The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program has not yet been made permanent and was scheduled to expire last month but was extended in the most recent appropriations bill until September 30, 2017. Oversight and investigations play a role in ensuring the program is working as designed, but the program is a key aspect of our immigration laws.
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