Obtaining an EB-5 U.S. Investor Visa with $500,000 in Investment Capital
The normal requirement for getting an EB-5 U.S. visa and green card based is investing $1 million in a U.S. business. However, the amount of the investment may be reduced to $500,000 under certain circumstances. Generally, if the business is located in a rural area or in an urban area with a high unemployment rate, the U.S. government promotes foreign investments by lowering the required amount for the EB-5 visa and green card. For a free consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys to discuss your EB-5 visa options, , please call or email us today! [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]
How high must the unemployment rate be in a given area to qualify for the EB-5 investment business?
The unemployment rate of an area must have been certified by the state government to be at least 150% of the national average. Rural areas are defined as any location outside of an official metropolitan statistical area or the outer boundaries of any city populated by 20,000 or more people. State governments will identify the parts of that particular state that are high in unemployment, and will send U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a list of which locations qualify. These are considered “targeted employment areas” and this designation is requested within the EB-5 investor’s petition. For more information on the specific definitions of USCIS terms, please read here. [LINK TO EB-5 DEFS]
What about investing in a USCIS approved regional center that qualifies for the EB-5 visa?
Under a temporary program that will expire in 2015, 3,000 of the visas for high-unemployment areas are set aside for immigrants who invest in “designated regional centers.” Regional centers are privately run organizations designated by USCIS. They work to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment. Real estate development projects such as office and retail developments, shopping centers, and resort hotel developments are popular projects for regional centers.
Are regional centers better to invest in than in a new enterprise?
Some investors view regional centers as a desirable way to pursue an investor visa, because the centers allow a wealthy investor to make a cash investment without creating or managing a new enterprise. However, it is important to make sure that you are signing up with a well-managed regional center. The mere fact that USCIS has designated the center does not protect the investor from the risk of losing the investment. As noted previously, it is important to remember that the regional center program is temporary. It will end in 2015 unless Congress votes to renew it.
What is a TEA rural area?
There is a specific set of criteria that an EB-5 project location must meet to qualify as a TEA rural area. Rural areas must not be within a metropolitan statistical area as labeled by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. A rural area must also not be on the outskirts of a town or city that has a population of 20,000 residents or more as determined through the U.S. Census. If the project location is a rural area at the time of the EB-5 investment, then it may be designated as a TEA.
What is a TEA high unemployment area?
An EB-5 project location must experience an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the U.S. national average to receive TEA designation due to high unemployment. High unemployment areas must also be in a county or metropolitan statistical location that has a population of 20,000 residents or more. An EB-5 project can receive TEA designation if the principal location of the project is located in a high unemployment area at the time the EB-5 investment is made.
How will I know if the regional center is located in a targeted employment area?
If you invest in a regional center, they will let you know if their projects are located in a targeted employment area, or TEA. Investors in regional centers need not prove that they themselves provided new jobs for ten U.S. workers, only that the regional center created ten or more jobs, directly or indirectly, or that it increased regional productivity. For help in assessing if an EB-5 visa or green card is the right choice for you, please call or email JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office. Our experienced immigration attorneys can help you today! [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]
How do I obtain a TEA Designation from USCIS for my EB-5 investor visa?
Targeted employment area designation is adjudicated as part of the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. The EB-5 visa applicant must provide sufficient evidence that their project is located within a rural or high unemployment area by submitting a TEA designation letter to USCIS. There are several forms of evidence that can be used to prove that the EB-5 investment will be administered within a TEA. Some tips for acquiring sufficient TEA designation evidence includes:
- Contacting the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) office to obtain published technical bulletins
- Getting a letter from state government body to provide rural area or high unemployment area evidence
- Providing other statistical documentation
If the EB-5 investment meets the $1 million threshold, there is no need for state involvement in the TEA designation process. If, however, the investment is made at the $500,000 state involvement may be necessary, though it is not essential. TEA designation can be pursued in one of two ways:
- TEA designation through USCIS Designation by USCIS requires the applicant to submit evidence (examples given above) that the location of the new commercial enterprise in which the applicant is investing has an average unemployment rate of 150 percent of the national average.
- TEA designation by the state government The applicant can submit a letter from an authorized state government body stating that the location of the new commercial enterprise has been designated a high unemployment area.
How can I find TEAs designated by state governments for my EB-5 investor visa?
What if you know that a part of the U.S. in which you would like to invest has extremely high unemployment, but it’s not on the USCIS list? Unfortunately, that area will not qualify for the lesser investment amount unless the state government has specifically designated it as a high-unemployment area for the purpose of EB-5 green cards. Some states provide a certified list of targeted employment areas that have already been identified (listed below), but certifications are still issued on an individual basis. Click on the state name to go to that state’s TEA information page.