EB-5 Visas

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 What is an Entry Visa?

Entry visas are immigration documents which are issued to nonimmigrant travelers who desire to enter and temporarily remain in the United States for a certain period of time. There are numerous entry visas an individual may choose from, each of which varies depending upon the reason for the individual’s trip as well as the amount of time which they intend to spend in the United States.

For example, a traveler who is a non-immigrant may apply for an entry visa for numerous reasons, such as:

  • To take care of business-related matters, for example, a visitor visa or a B-1 visa;
  • For vacation or tourism purposes;
  • To receive medical treatment; or
  • To marry a U.S. citizen, for example, a fiancé visa or a K-1 visa.

Additionally, there are different classifications for each type of available visa. For example, an individual may apply for a single-entry visa if they wish to only enter the United States for a short period of time.

In contrast, an individual may be required to apply for a multiple-entry visa if they desire to make multiple trips into and out of the United States. It is important to note that there are two main separate categories for visas, nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas.

Foreign-born nationals will be required to determine if they wish to obtain a nonimmigrant entry visa or an immigrant entry visa prior to applying for their visa. Nonimmigrant entry visas are issued to individuals who only intend to travel to the United STates on a temporary basis.

On the other hand, immigrant visas are issued to individuals who wish to permanently live and work in the United States. In certain cases, foreign-born nationals may also be able to apply for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

The VWP permits individuals from approved countries to apply for entry into the United States for 90 days or less without being required to obtain a nonimmigrant visa first. It is important to note that the requirements for the VWP are strict and, therefore, not every individual may be eligible for admission into the United States through this program.

In order for an individual to learn more about the various types of entry visas they can apply for, it may be helpful to consult with a local immigraiton attorney to determine which visa will best suit their needs.

What is the EB-5 Visa Program?

The EB-5 visa program is a program which was created in 1990 to encourage foreign investors to establish businesses in the United States. The EB-5 is listed as the fifth preference under the Employment-Based immigration categories.

EB-5 visas essentially grant conditional green cards to immigrant investors who are willing to invest in one of the following ways:

  • $1 million for the purpose of initiating business enterprises in the United States; or
  • $500,000 in a targeted employment area with high-unemployment or in a rural area.

Are There Other Requirements for EB-5 Visas?

There are relatively few requirements for EB-5 visas. A foreign investor is required to demonstrate an intent to invest at either of the two minimum qualifying amounts discussed above.

The investor will then be granted a conditional green card. After 2 years, the conditions on that green card will be lifted.

The individual may then apply for permanent citizenship shortly thereafter, although it may be up to 5 years before a determination is final. The conditions on a green card will be removed after two years if an individual is able to prove:

  • The business which they established is still an ongoing project; and
  • The business has created at least 10 new jobs;
    • It is important to note that family members do not count.

Immigrant investors are required to be involved in the day-to-day management of the business endeavor. In addition, the business is required to contribute goods or services to United States citizens.

What is a Regional Center?

As previously noted, an immigrant investor may choose to invest in what is known as a targeted employment area. This type of area is designated by the state as an area with high unemployment rates or an area which experiences notable economic hardships.

For an immigrant who is applying under an EB-5 visa, the required minimum investment in these areas is lowered to $500,000. If an immigrant investor will be investing their resources into a designated targeted employment area, they will typically be working with a Regional Center.

These centers are organizations whose task it is to oversee the immigrant investment activities. A full list of approved Regional Centers may be viewed at the website for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What are the Main Benefits and Drawbacks of an EB-5 Visa?

One of the main benefits of an EB-5 visa is that it permits an alien to obtain permanent citizenship in a relatively shorter amount of time as compared to other types of visas. Typically, the time period is only between 2 to 5 years, as opposed to the 10 or 15 years often required for other visa categories.

The main drawback of the EB-5 visa category is the large amount of money which an individual must invest in order to qualify for the green card. For individuals who are already investing large amounts of money into American projects, however, the EB-5 visa may be a highly preferable option.

How Does EB-5 Capital Help Fund Film Projects?

Because of the fact that credit markets have become stricter in light of recent events, there is an increasing number of American businesses and developers that have looked into EB-5 financing in order to raise the funds which are required for their projects. The types of companies that have benefited from EB-5 financing include film and medical production companies.

There are certain federally-approved Regional Centers through which EB-5 financing is distributed to the motion picture and television industries. One of these centers is the Hollywood Film Capital (HFC), which received approval to finance film and television projects in Los Angeles as well as the rest of Southern California.

Pursuant to the job creation economic model of the HFC, approximately 30% of production expenses in Southern California are funded by EB-5 financing in addition to are 40% of prints and advertising expenses. Pursuant to the HFC, the EB-5 program was responsible for bringing in about 3 million dollars in funding in 2013.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an EB-5 Visa?

If you are considering applying for an EB-5 visa, it will require considerable planning and foresight. This is because this visa involves investing a considerable amount of your time as well as your money.

This is especially true if you will be applying under the sub-category of a targeted employment area. It may be helpful for you to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine what types of business activities would qualify for the EB-5 visa category as well as to locate the various Regional Centers, if necessary.

Your lawyer can assist you throughout the EB-5 visa application process. Ensuring that your visa application is completely and accurately filled out will help ensure efficient and quicker processing so that you can begin your investment journey in the United States.

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