William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

The US EB-5 Investment

The United States EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has long been a pathway for foreign investors seeking permanent resident status in the US. Established with the aim of stimulating economic growth and job creation, the EB-5 program has gained significant attention for its unique approach to immigration through investment.

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

William Huston, AIF®, AIFA®

Central to the program is the concept of the EB-5 investment amount, a key determinant for eligibility. Investors are required to commit a minimum capital sum to qualify for the program, and understanding the nuances of this requirement is fundamental for those navigating the application process.

Beyond the financial commitment, the EB-5 program offers multiple avenues for investment, presenting applicants with the flexibility to choose between direct investments and investments through designated Regional Centers. This diversity allows investors to tailor their approach based on their preferences, risk tolerance and investment goals.

Whether you are an aspiring immigrant, an investor exploring opportunities, or a curious observer, you can learn how to secure a US green card through your EB-5 investment funds.

Key Takeaways
  • The minimum EB-5 investment amount is a critical factor in an immigrant petition, with current requirements set at $800,000 for Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and $1.05 million for non-TEA investments.

  • There's been a shift in the EB5 program towards direct investments and increased minimum investment amounts, and adjustments to TEA designations have shaped the current landscape for EB-5 investors.

  • Successful EB-5 petitions emphasize the importance of due diligence in project selection. Understanding the impact of investment choices vs the role of Regional Centers is a key duty for prospective investors.


The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to be a source of professional financial advice. You will find experts on financial planning and financial management here.

Brief Overview of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

The EB-5 Program is overseen by USCIS, and it's a way for investors and their families to get a Green Card, meaning lawful permanent residence in the United States.

How EB-5 works

Investment in a U.S. Business: Investors need to make a specific investment in a US business.

Job Creation: The goal is to create or keep at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. This whole setup is known as the EB-5 Program, named after the fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Explore these lucrative investment opportunities.
Why EB-5 exists

The U.S. Congress introduced the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate economic growth in the US. The idea was to bring in money from foreign investors, create jobs, and give them a shot at becoming Green Card holders.

In 1992, they added the Immigrant Investor Program, also called the Regional Center Program. This part reserves EB-5 visas for those who invest in businesses connected to specific centers approved by USCIS. These centers have plans to grow the economy.

How to secure an EB5 green card

To get an EB-5 visa, an investor needs to:

  • Make a capital investment of at least $800,000 in an American business.

  • Make sure this investment leads to creating and maintaining at least 10 jobs.

A successful EB5 investment/immigrant petition grants a conditional permanent resident status initially, which can become a regular Green Card after two years.

Key benefits

The program is a win-win:

  • Investors get a shot at living in the U.S.

  • The U.S. economy gets a boost.

Recent studies show impressive results. From 2014 to 2015, about $10.98 billion flowed through the Regional Center program, creating over 355,200 jobs. This proves how effective the program is at driving economic growth and job opportunities in various industries.

Evolution of the EB-5 investment

The EB-5 immigrant investment program was born out of the Immigration Act of 1990, a significant makeover of the U.S. immigration system. Its aim was to boost the U.S. economy by inviting foreign entrepreneurs to invest in American businesses, granting them the chance to live and work permanently in the United States.

The pilot program emerges

In 1993, Congress introduced the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program to generate more interest in the EB-5 visa initiative. This led to the creation of EB-5 Regional Centers—specialized entities endorsed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to handle EB-5 investments and create jobs.

Reforms in the late '90s

The late 1990s saw significant changes due to concerns about lax regulation and fraudulent EB-5 investments. The U.S. District Court case of U.S. v. O’Connor revealed fraudulent schemes, prompting the USCIS to tighten requirements.

Investors now had to prove their funds came from lawful sources, be actively involved in their projects, and guarantees of investment returns were prohibited. Despite an attempt to apply these changes retroactively, the courts ruled against it, causing a decline in EB-5 applicants.

During this period, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) made four crucial precedent decisions, setting standards for future applications. These decisions, including Matter of Ho and Matter of Izummi, shaped regulations on commercial entities eligible for EB-5 investment, funding source qualifications, and investment administration.

The 2000s rejuvenation

In 2003, Congress passed the Basic Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act, initiating reforms following a Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigation. The GAO found that only a small portion of the allocated 10,000 visas were being granted annually.

To better administer the program, the Investor and Regional Center Unit (IRCU) was established in 2005, leading to better coordination and reliability in the EB-5 program.

Policy changes and reauthorizations

In 2009, the USCIS issued revised policy guidance, centralizing EB-5 processing at the California Service Center (CSC). Despite not yet being made permanent, the EB-5 program has consistently been reauthorized.

President Obama extended the EB-5 immigrant investor pilot program until September 30, 2012, with a subsequent three-year extension until 2015. (Its authorization expired in June 2021 and lapsed for nine months until it was reauthorized by Congress in March 2022.)

The EB-5 program's journey showcases its adaptability in response to challenges, ensuring its continued role in offering opportunities for foreign investors to register permanent residence in the US and to contribute to growth of the nation's economy.

Types of EB-5 investment projects

The EB-5 program presents foreign investors with a range of investment options, each with its own advantages and tailored to different preferences and goals. Let's take a closer look at these opportunities, understanding the types of EB-5 investments potential investors may consider.

1. TEA vs. Non-TEA investments

One of the primary decisions facing EB-5 investors is whether to opt for a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or a non-TEA investment. This choice provides flexibility, enabling investors to align their strategy with their risk tolerance and investment goals.

TEA Investments

Situated in areas characterized by high unemployment or rural regions, TEA investments demand a lower minimum investment of $900,000. This presents a compelling option for those seeking a more affordable entry point into the EB-5 program while contributing to the development of economically challenged regions.

Non-TEA Investments

For investors with a higher risk appetite or specific project preferences, non-TEA investments require an EB5 investment amount of $1.8 million. While this may seem like a larger commitment, it opens the door to a broader range of projects and locations, providing investors with a more extensive portfolio of opportunities.

Understanding these distinctions is paramount for investors as they navigate the EB-5 program. It allows them to tailor their approach and ensure a personalized strategy that aligns with their financial capacity and objectives.

2. Regional center vs. direct investment

Beyond the TEA and non-TEA differentiators, potential EB-5 investors must decide whether to invest through a Regional Center or pursue Direct Investment. Each avenue presents unique characteristics, offering investors the chance to choose the path that aligns most with their preferences.

Direct Investment

Opting for direct investment implies that an applicant selects a project, invests in a new commercial enterprise, and independently manages and controls the business.

The spectrum of eligible businesses includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, business trusts, limited liability companies, and other privately or publicly owned entities.

This approach provides investors with a hands-on involvement in their chosen venture, fostering a sense of control and accountability.

Regional Centers

On the other hand, investors can choose to channel their capital through entities certified to accumulate funds from multiple foreign and in-country investors. These pooled funds are then directed towards large-scale infrastructure projects such as hotels, ski resorts, arenas, and retail ventures.

The advantage of this approach lies in the hands-off nature for investors, allowing them to participate in expansive projects without direct involvement in day-to-day operations.

Direct investments with Bay Street
LA property

As a foreigner seeking permanent residency through investments, consider making direct investment with Bay Street, a California-based firm.

Among other ventures, Bay Street is currently managing a boutique hotel in Tahoe and a property in Los Angeles, while working on launching hotel development projects in Portugal and the Bahamas.

This approach provides investors with a practical method for monitoring the jobs created without being burdened by the tasks of managing investments or overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. It offers a simpler and more straightforward path to obtaining an EB-5 immigrant visa.

Begin your EB5 investment process and diversify your portfolio globally through Bay Street's hotel fund.

Schedule a meeting with a Bay Street’s asset manager or wealth advisor today.
Annual approval for EB5 centers

Regardless of the chosen path, centers must obtain annual approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to maintain eligibility under the EB-5 program. This regulatory oversight ensures that the regional center continues to contribute to economic growth, reinforcing the program's commitment to job creation and development.

Whether opting for TEA or non-TEA, direct investment or regional center participation, understanding these distinctions empowers investors. This understanding helps them craft a strategy that not only aligns with their financial capacity but also propels them toward the realization of their American dream.

Recent policy changes and future implications

There are two ways to go about getting an EB-5 visa - either by making a direct investment or through a "regional center investment." But there's been recent changes, and the more viable option for anyone eyeing an EB-5 visa is a direct investment.

A rule meant to modernize the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, that was finalized in November 2019, had made several changes to the program. These include keeping the priority date for certain investors, increasing the minimum investment amounts, and tweaking how targeted employment areas (TEAs) are designated. But a court decision in June 2021 threw out this rule.

Furthermore, a recent reform, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 aims to enhance the EB-5 immigrant investor program with new investment rules, a smoother application process, and increased security measures for improved effectiveness and economic impact.

Key points of the new rules include:

  • Getting rid of some rules from the EB-5 Modernization Rule that a court canceled on June 22, 2021;

  • Letting applicants use Form I-485, which is for getting permanent residence, at the same time or after filing Form I-526 or Form I-526E when a visa is available;

  • Changing the investment amounts and how areas are designated for employment;

  • Updating the name of Form I-526 to "Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor" in Volumes 7 and 8 and mentioning Form I-526E, which is for Regional Center Investors.

Here's what you should know about the changes:

Priority date retention

If you had an EB-5 petition approved before and you're filing a new one, you get to keep the old approval date. This is good news for some immigrant investors.

Capital investment requirements

The amount you need to invest has been reverted to its pre-2019 amount. For a standard investment, it's now $1,050,000 (not $1.8 million), and for a TEA, it's $800,000 (not $900,000). These amounts will also be adjusted for inflation every five years.

TEA designations

The review and designation of high-unemployment TEAs will be done directly by USCIS, not relying on state and local governments. TEAs can now include cities and towns outside of metropolitan areas if they meet certain criteria.

Removal of conditions on permanent residence

The new rule clarifies when family members who got their immigration status through the primary investor need to file independently. There's also more flexibility in where interviews can take place, and the regulations are updated to match the current Green Card issuance process.

Throughout the EB-5 investment process, applicants will encounter the crucial distinction between investments made in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and non-TEAs. The former, characterized by higher unemployment rates or rural locations, often come with reduced investment thresholds, providing an added dimension for investors to consider when selecting their projects.

The rule meant to modernize things has been set aside, and investors should be aware of the increased minimum investment amounts and the adjustments in how TEAs are designated.

Additionally, investors must demonstrate that their investment has resulted in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. Understanding these changes is crucial for anyone considering the EB-5 visa path.

Impact of the investment amount on visa availability

Fluctuations in the EB-5 investment amount directly influence the availability of visas within the program. Demand for EB-5 visas can vary based on economic conditions, investor interest, and policy changes. Understanding how these fluctuations affect visa availability is essential for investors planning their immigration journey.

Successful analysis of visa availability involves examining wait times for visa processing and understanding the demand for EB-5 visas. As the investment amount changes, it can impact the number of investors applying for visas, leading to variations in processing times.

EB-5 investment amount and regional centers

Regional Centers play a crucial role in the EB-5 program, contributing significantly to meeting the investment amount requirements. These centers, approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), facilitate investment in specific projects, offering investors a structured pathway to fulfill the program's criteria.

Understanding the role of Regional Centers involves exploring how they operate, their approval process, and the benefits they provide to investors. By partnering with a Regional Center, investors can benefit from the expertise and guidance necessary to navigate the complexities of the EB-5 program successfully.

Case studies

Hardik, one of many immigrant investors, successfully navigated the EB-5 program to secure green cards for himself and his family. Originally from India and living in Canada, he decided the U.S. was the place for him and his family. His EB-5 journey wasn't easy, but it's a great example of navigating through the choices.

Hardik had to pick the right project, especially after the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. He chose rural projects, which have some benefits, like a 20% visa set-aside. This helped him avoid delays and get a Green Card faster.

His final choice was the Twin Lakes project under EB5AN. This decision came after careful research on job creation, following USCIS rules, and understanding all the project details. Case studies like Hardik's help us see the real challenges and decisions people face when going for a Green Card through the EB-5 program.

Bay Street's luxury vacation hotels, RestHaven Properties, are similar to the project chosen by Hardik. Schedule a meeting to speak with the asset manager.

Tips for prospective EB-5 investors

Embarking on the EB-5 program involves these crucial steps:

  1. Begin by conducting thorough initial research to understand the program's nuances.

  2. Identify one or more potential projects that align with your investment goals.

  3. Exercise due diligence on the selected projects to ensure their viability.

  4. Commit the necessary capital required for your chosen investment pathway.

  5. Compile all personal documents required for the application process.

  6. Submit Form I-526 to initiate your EB-5 petition.

  7. Upon approval, apply for conditional resident status through the appropriate channels.

  8. Complete the process by filing Form I-829 to remove the conditions on your permanent residency.

Additionally, look at your investment amount carefully, and consider where you're from and any backlog of applications. Take a cue from Hardik's journey – do thorough research. Rural projects might speed up your Green Card process.

When picking a project, check its quality, construction, and if it fits your goals. Visit project sites if you can. Having the right legal help is crucial too, for example, a legal representative who can speak multiple languages. A successful EB5 petition is all about doing your homework and making smart choices.

Achieving the American dream

The United States EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers foreign investors a distinct path to permanent resident status. The program's flexibility, seen in diverse investment options and recent policy shifts, requires prospective participants to conduct thorough research and due diligence.

So, the EB-5 program is an incredible investment for you. Remember to do your research, carefully pick your project, and get good legal help. This petition is not simply about getting a Green Card – it's also about securing your future in the U.S.








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