EB-5 program

Tips for Businesses Seeking EB-5 Funding

By Peek & Toland on February 24, 2019

The EB-5 immigrant investor program permits foreign investors to obtain a green card and an eventual means of U.S. citizenship when they invest in new commercial enterprises in the United States that are designed to create jobs. Each project requires that an investment of $1 million create at least ten new full-time jobs for U.S. workers. This option is a highly attractive and beneficial way to gain investor financing.

To more effective secure EB-5 funding, your proposed enterprise will need to stand out from all of the other potential projects. A strong marketing campaign is a necessity, since competition among EB-5 projects for funding is quite high. Any successful project will have to appeal to potential investors and address any concerns by investors, such as in the area of security. You also will need to address any risks and the overall feasibility of the project. You will have to be honest, transparent, and very specific about how your project will create jobs.

Tips for Businesses Seeking EB-5 Funding

Regional centers may make it easier for projects looking for EB-5 funding. These centers are designated by geographical area and industry, and often cover areas that are deemed targeted employment or rural areas. Targeted employment areas, in particular, may be more attractive for investors because they require only a $500,000 investment. Working with regional centers also allows you to count jobs that are indirectly created by the project toward your total number of jobs created, which you cannot do with projects not affiliated with regional centers.

You also may choose to make it easier for investors by applying for exemplar status from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which essentially pre-approves your project. Obtaining this pre-approval gives your investors shorter waiting times. However, getting exemplar status is not an easy process and may take up to two years to achieve.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

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What Investment Sources Are Allowed for EB-5 Investors?

By Peek & Toland on April 16, 2018

EB-5 investors can qualify for a green card if they invest a large sum of money in a business enterprise in the United States.

To qualify for a green card under the EB-5 category the overseas investor must bring at least $1 million in a U.S. commercial enterprise, or $500,000 if the business is located in a targeted employment area (TEA).

There is a myriad of other rules. An EB-5 investor must be the legal owner of the invested capital. The foreign investor must be able to prove to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that all of the capital to be invested was lawfully acquired.

There are strict rules for EB-5 investors

Rules for EB-5 Investors

In recent years, the EB-5 program has been dogged by a series of scandals. These rules are meant to ensure the money comes from a legitimate source.

USCIS sets out the sources of investment money that are allowed. Funding obtained through an employer as part of a salary is one of the most well-recognized sources of money.

As long as income is properly documented, and does not involve any unauthorized employment in the United States, the ‘source of funds’ component of an  EB-5 petition should be straightforward.

The process is seldom so straightforward. Often EB-5 investors investment funds from a wide variety of sources. It may present a challenge to document these sources. These sources include:

Gifts

If money is obtained via a gift, it can be utilized for EB-5 investment purposes. However, the foreign investor must be able to document and prove it’s a genuine gift and not a loan.

He or she must show there is no obligation to repay the giver. It’s also necessary for the investor to show the gifting party obtained the funds lawfully. If gift tax is owed, USCIS may ask for evidence that it was paid.

Sale of Assets or Property

An investor from abroad can sell property or use other assets to raise the funds necessary for the investment in the U.S. economy

You should be aware that USCIS will want to know the lawful source of the funds. The investor should document how the money was originally acquired to buy property or an asset in the first place. There is no standard guidance related to how far the investor must go back to document the lawful source of funds used for the investment.

Loans

There are restrictions on the use of loans. If investment funds are obtained via a loan, this money can only be used when the loan is secured by assets of equal or greater value than those owned by the investor.

An unsecured loan, or another loan that is secured by the assets of the EB-5 enterprise, cannot be used for EB-5 investment purposes.

EB-5 investment is a complicated and tricky area that requires considerable paperwork. USCIS meticulously looks at evidence related to source of funding in all EB-5 cases. It’s important to keep a paper trail of where the investment money is coming from.

Our experienced Austin business immigration lawyers can help you with EB-5 applications. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Three Steps to Apply for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa

By Peek & Toland on October 19, 2017

When entrepreneurs invest significant sums of money in the United States they can qualify for an EB-5 immigrant investor visa in some cases, allowing them to gain a green card.

The immigrant investor program is based on a qualifying investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States.

The category was first set up in 1990. Although it was once underutilized, it became a popular option in recent years, partially due to over-subscription in other employment-based categories.

Steps to apply for an immigrant investor visa

Three steps to apply for an EB-5 immigrant investor visa

To qualify for an EB-5 visa, a foreign investor must invest at least $1 million in a U.S. commercial enterprise. He or she can qualify by investing $500,000 if the enterprise is in a rural area or an area with high unemployment known as a targeted employment area.

Often the investment is made through regional centers which pool investors’ money and apply funds toward projects to boost the economy in the approved area.

If you are applying for an EB-5 visa, you will encounter a three-step process.

Three Steps to Apply for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa

1 The Foreign Entrepreneur Submits an Immigrant Petition

The applicant from overseas must submit the immigrant petition by an alien entrepreneur (form I-526). The investor generally should either invest the funds in the commercial enterprise or commit the money for investment by placing it in escrow. Under the latter option, the funds must be automatically transferred on approval of the I-526 petition and the immigrant visa being issued or the I-485 application being approved.

There are some additional requirements the investor should provide when form I-526 is submitted, including:

  • Evidence of the source of the investment funds. The money must be lawfully obtained.
  • The enterprise’s ability to create 10 full-time positions for U.S. workers.
  • The investor’s role in the management of the enterprise.

If the investment is made via a regional center, the EB5 investor is not required to be involved in the management of the enterprise.

2 Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status

When the I-526 is approved, the investor along with his or her spouse and children under 21 may apply for conditional green cards valid for two years.

3 Filling in Form I-829

A successful EB-5 applicant receives a conditional green card valid for two years. He or she must remove the condition about 90 days before the conditional green card is due to expire by filing form I-829.

Certain evidential requirements must be met. The I-829 has to be accompanied by evidence that the investment funds are still in the project and that the requisite 10 jobs were created. Once the form is approved, the immigrant investor will receive a permanent, unconditional green card.

Find out more about the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program here on our website.

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EB-5 Regional Centers Are Subject to Inspections

By Peek & Toland on September 15, 2017

The EB-5 regional program brings significant investment into the US from overseas. However, critics say it’s open to abuse.  Now, under a new program, EB-5 regional centers are receiving more regular site visits.

The visits are a result of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking to make sure regional centers are fulfilling their purposes under the EB-5 program.

USCIS closed some regional centers in 2016 and site visits have now become increasingly important to make sure the centers are in compliance with the EB-5 program.

The Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) division of USCIS has also started to carry out site visits for EB-5 projects.

EB-5 regional centers are subject to inspection

EB=5 regional centers are subject to inspection

There are some inherent pitfalls in these visits for centers and it’s prudent to ensure an immigration attorney is present.

It’s vital that sites subject to inspections also appoint a trained, designated contact as well as a backup contact to engage FDNS on arrival.

The point of contact is usually the principal of the regional center or the commercial enterprise. He or she should be properly trained in the protocols of site visits and be armed with key information related to the project.

Sites should draw up a protocol to help anybody who is likely to come into contact with an FDNS agent including front desk staff.

Many people at centers are uncertain about these visits because they only started recently.

The site visits are not confined to businesses affiliated to regional centers alone. Any EB-5 direct investments, whether they are ‘stand-alone’ or non-regional center affiliated “collectives will be checked through the process of an in-person visit and an inspection. USCIS sets out the procedure for the compliance visits on its website.

Key Tasks of the Inspection Team for EB-5 Regional Center Visits

The work of the inspection team includes:

  • Reviewing applications, certifications, and other records;
  • Looking around the site;
  • Reviewing public records and pertinent information on the regional center;
  • Verifying relevant information such as supporting documents that are with applications as well as annual certifications
  • Interviewing site personnel to confirm all the supporting information provided with applications and certifications is correct.

The EB-5 program allows overseas investors who bring at least $1 million into the United States or $500,000 if the money is invested in high-unemployment or rural areas, to gain a green card.

However, high profile scandals in recent years have made headlines. In Vermont, a ski resort was accused of misusing more than $200 million in investor funds in a Ponzi scheme.

As experienced Austin, Texas, visa immigration lawyers, we can provide help over compliance issues. Contact us via this link.

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What Are Immigrant Investor Regional Centers?

By Peek & Toland on May 27, 2016

The immigrant investor regional program has been in operation for more than a quarter of a century. If you are an entrepreneur from overseas, you, your spouse and any unmarried children you have under 21 may be eligible to apply for permanent residence if you invest in the U.S. economy.

It’s known as the EB-5 Program and is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Immigrant investor regional centers

The program allows entrepreneurs and their family members to apply for green cards if they:

  1. Make the “necessary investment” in a U.S. business or a commercial enterprise. The investment must be a minimum of $1 million, or $500,000 if the money is invested in high-unemployment or rural areas, and,
  2. Create or preserve at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for “qualified U.S. workers.”

The EB-5 program was developed in 1990 during the George H.W. Bush presidency to boost jobs and overseas capital investment in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Two years later, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, which is also called the Regional Center Program. It’s not a unique concept to America. More than 25 other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, operate a similar model.

Investors who create or retain at least 10 jobs can receive EB-5 visas that are set aside for them. Not every proposal qualifies. They must be submitted to USCIS, which assesses their potential to stimulate economic growth. The type of business that is eligible for an EB-5 visa is explained in more detail here.

Congress Widened Immigrant Investor Programs

The program was widened in scope by Congress which permitted Regional Centers to be designed if they could pool EB-5 capital from a number of foreign investors to fund projects that are approved in designated areas by USCIS.

As access to capital was severely curtailed in the recession of the late 2000s, EB-5 investment filled some of the gaps and provided a vital source of money to kick start economic development and infrastructure projects in local communities, states Invest in the USA. The not-for-profit industry trade association carried out a study in 2013 that found EB-5 investment programs contributed $3.58 billion to the country’s GDP and created about 41,000 new jobs.

Texas was one of the states that saw the highest level of capital investment with more than $115 million pumped into the economy in 2013 alone.

The complexity of the application system has deterred investors in the past. The process was streamlined in 2011 and the number of applicants jumped from 800 in 2007 to 3,800 in 2011.

Applying for an EB-5 visa remains challenging. At Peek & Toland , our seasoned immigration attorneys can help you through the process while ensuring you are protected. We have a long track record in representing people who invest in Texas. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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