Not every investment will qualify you for an EB-5 visa — EB-5 investments must meet certain criteria. There are three ways that you might go about investing your capital — (i) establishing a new commercial enterprise (ii) purchasing an existing business or (iii) investing in an EB-5 regional center project. You may qualify for the $900,000 minimum investment or the $1.8 million minimum investment, depending on the area in which the project is located.
- Establishing a new commercial enterprise will mean making a direct investment by forming your own new commercial enterprise, hiring employees and obtaining any licenses or permits required by any government with jurisdiction over your business.
- Purchasing an existing business will mean purchasing the shares of an existing commercial enterprise and assuming its liabilities. If the business qualifies as a distressed business that would otherwise go bankrupt or lay off its employees, you may be eligible to meet the job creation requirement by preserving jobs at the acquired company that, but for your purchase, would have been lost.
- Investing in a regional center project means investing in one of the USCIS’s 783 approved regional center programs. By taking this route, you will be acting as a passive investor (you will not be involved in the day-to-day operation of the business or its major decisions). Investment risk for a regional center is low, but so is return on investment.
As a regional center investor, you will meet the EB-5 job creation requirement by creating indirect jobs, based on the extent to which your investment helped revitalize the economy of a particular geographic area. Contrast this with the direct jobs you would create if you established a new enterprise and hired workers.The regional center option is ideal for investors who wish to take advantage of the EB-5 program but have no experience managing a business.
“High Employment Areas” (HEAs) vs. “Targeted Employment Areas” (TEAs)
A Targeted Employment Area (TEA), for which a $900,000 minimum is required, is an area of high unemployment (150 percent of the national average or more) or a rural area, that has been designated as a TEA by the USCIS under the EB-5 program.
Formerly, states were given the authority to designate TEAs, but now that authority rests solely with the USCIS. This revision makes it harder to designate urban areas as TEAs. According to the USCIS, this was done to keep states from manipulating the EB-5 program by designating economically healthy areas as TEAs.
A High Employment Area (HEA) for which a $1.8 million investment is required, means a part of a metropolitan statistical area that is not a TEA, that enjoys an unemployment rate that is significantly below the national average.