By Neal Westin
[The following was written by Lori Bullock, a law clerk in Nyemaster Goode's summer program.]
The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") Director, Alejandro Mayorkas, has announced two changes to the EB-5 investor visa program designed to expand and improve the program. The USCIS has now created a separate EB-5 office to improve processing times and streamline the application process. Additionally, the USCIS is forming a review board to provide a secondary review of rejected applications to ensure that the program is being administered appropriately.
The EB-5 visa was created by Congress in the 1990s to encourage foreign investment in American businesses and spur the economy. The program continues to grow as the number of visas granted for the program has jumped from less than 1,000 visas a year in the beginning years of the program to over 3,500 last year.
To be eligible for permanent resident ("green card") status through the EB-5 program, an investor must generally invest at least one million dollars in a business and create ten full-time positions for U.S. workers within two years of the investment. The investment requirement is reduced to $500,000 in a "targeted employment area" that is rural with a population of less than 20,000 or is an area with a high unemployment rate. The EB-5 program grants permanent resident status to the investor as well as his or her spouse and minor children.
The EB-5 program provides a tremendous opportunity for individuals looking to invest in the United States and has also been very beneficial to the U.S. economy, responsible for the creation of over 46,000 jobs and the investment of $2.3 billion.