During the early 19th century immigration wave into the USA, “… and the streets are paved with gold!” was widely broadcasted to the huddled masses seeking a better life. Some immigrants did find “gold.” While others only “fools gold,” all found freedom. Today, the same three options exist for those seeking to invest in the USA.
While our streets are not paved with gold, there is a path into the USA that is. Since 1999, the law has allowed one to obtain permanent residence in the USA by making a significant investment in the USA. One has the option of starting a business, buying a distressed business, or investing in a project in area designated by the government as in need of economic assistance. The amount of the investment varies from a minimum of $500,000 to $1 million depending upon the type of investment chosen.
The character of the investment is irrelevant as long as there is a sound business plan, it does in fact generate at lest ten new jobs and the money being invested is “clean,” not generated from any sources that are criminal or otherwise suspect. Initially, one gets conditional permanent residency status for two years. Prior to the two year expiration of the conditional permanent residency, the investment is again reviewed by the UCSIS to ensure that all of the applicable requirements have been met. If the two-year review goes well, one gets unconditional permanent residence status. If it sounds too easy and too good to be true, just like fools gold, it is in a way.
Since its inception, the EB5 investor visa program has not been warmly received by the US immigration service. The latest available statistics show that the approval rate for such applications is about 50%, yet the internet has been flooded of late with ads promising an easy path to green card status through the EB5 program. The program does work; however, the devil is in the details. One must make sure first and foremost that the investment is sound, as with any other investment opportunity. To avoid ending up having invested the money with no green card for your effort, it is important that proper due diligence is performed on any investment. If the investment goes bad, so does your hope for a green card.
In order to hit gold, one must proceed with caution and methodically with the help of not only trained immigration legal counsel, but ideally a team of experienced experts in business evaluation who can ensure the investment is not “fools gold.” If the investment is one that you are actively managing, you have more money at risk ($1 million), but greater control of your destiny. If your investment is in one of the targeted regional centers, less money is involved ($500,000), but so is your level of control of the investment’s direction. Either way, you are at risk should the business fail or the investment is done in by the economy.
Despite the risk, pursuing permanent residence through the EB5 process may be the only option open for one to obtain permanent residency in the current immigration climate. With due caution and care, the road to the freedoms of the USA may be open to you; the true gold is this country.