US EB-5 the World’s Most Popular Residency by Investment Programme

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USA EB5 visas

The EB-5 visa offers permanent residency status to applicants upon arrival in the US.

This permanent residency status is conditional for the first two years. To remove the condition, and make the holders’ Green Cards permanent, applicants file a subsequent application in the 90-day window before the two-year anniversary of obtaining the visa.

This subsequent application confirms that the EB-5 criteria have been met.

For direct investment applicants, that will include demonstrating that the business was established, the requisite capital has been invested, and the required number of jobs have been created.

Regional Development Centre applicants have the benefit of seeing most if not all of this evidence provided for them by the investment centre.

All or part of an EB-5 investment may be funded through the use of gifts or loans.

A highly popular option is for parents to donate or loan funds, so their children can file as the E-5 investor and obtain a US Green Card.

All the usual source of funds rules apply, whether it is a gift or a loan, and whether it is provided by a US or foreign individual or corporation.

The applicant will need the lender or donor to provide them with evidence of the lawful source of the funds provided.

It is advisable that you instruct a US Attorney-at-Law prior to executing these arrangments, to ensure thorough compliance with EB-5 evidentiary requirements.

Lower costs, better acceptance rates, and access to US scholarships all make EB-5 visas of interest to parents whose children seek to attend US secondary schools and universities.

Recent years have seen a surge in applications from international students, and many schools have strict quotas on international places offered. That means competition for those places is fiercer than ever.

And, international students truly pay for the privilege, as they pay premiums for university places above the costs paid by their local peers.

For families where one or more students plan to attend US university, these costs provide a balance to EB-5 visa costs, which may be lower overall while offering the added advantage of wider benefits for the entire family.

EB-5 visa holders enjoy the outsized benefit of being able to start a US business without foreign investment restrictions, and accept offers of employment without US employer immigration sponsorship.

Entrepreneurs or business owners relying on E1 or E2 non-immigrant visas typically seek out the EB-5 visa as the ultimate means to obtain US citizenship and end the uncertainty of visa renewals.

Similarly, highly skilled employees can step away from the annual H1-B visa lottery and cut ties with unreliable process US employer sponsors.

The EB-5 application process includes money laundering and 'source of funds' procedures, which may be unfamiliar only to the extent of how exceptionally rigorous they are.

In sum, EB-5 applicant investors must present evidence to prove the applicant's funds have come from a lawful source.

The documents required to do so will vary by applicant. Typically, applications will include some combination of tax returns, employment records, asset or real estate sale documentation, loan agreements, or evidence of gifts or inheritance received.

Applicants are advised to instruct a US Attorney-at-Law to assist with this process, as errors in the presentation of the necessary documentation can be fatal to the success of an application.

For EB-5 ‘direct investment’ visas, applicants must invest in a "new commercial enterprise" in the US.

Any investment made after November 29, 1990 qualifies as “new”.

"Commercial" means it cannot be a passive investment such as the purchase of real estate. By contrast, an active property development project would qualify as commercial.

Investors can choose between creating a new business, purchasing an existing business to be reorganized as a new enterprise, or expanding an existing business.

Applicants are advised to instruct a US Attorney-at-Law before making any project investment commitments, as projects may not meet criteria, which themselve may be subject to change without notice.