For foreign nationals with substantial assets, the EB-5 investor visa program can provide one of the quickest paths to United States permanent residency and citizenship. This EB-5 visa–also known as the “golden visa”–is especially attractive to investors who want to give their children the opportunity to be educated and work in the U.S. The program’s current extension through September 2018 is good news, but the program’s future remains uncertain.

How the EB-5 Investor Visa Program Works

The EB-5 immigration program gives foreign nationals an opportunity to obtain a green card–that is, a permit to live and work in the U.S. permanently–if they make a qualifying investment in the United States.

An EB-5 investor must create at least 10 new full-time jobs in the U.S. by investing at least $1 million in a U.S. business, or a minimum of $500,000 if the business is in a rural or high-unemployment area (termed a “targeted employment area” or TEA).

The investor receives conditional residency for two years. Then, if the requirements of the investment program have been met, the investor receives permanent residency. After five years of permanent residency, the investor can become a naturalized citizen. Importantly, the investor’s spouse and children under age 21 can immigrate with the investor on those same terms.

A total of 10,000 EB-5 visas are currently available per year, but quotas do apply by country.

EB-5 Immigration Program History

The EB-5 program was originally created in 1990 as a way to boost the American economy through capital investment by foreign nationals. But since 2015, the future of the program has been uncertain, and Congress has only renewed the program for months at a time. Most recently, in March 2018, the program was extended through the end of September 2018.

Because the terms of the EB-5 program have not changed substantially in over 20 years, Congress recognizes the need to update and, in some ways, reform the program before authorizing a long-term extension.

Proposed Changes to the EB-5 Program Possible in 2018

Most of the proposed reforms to the EB-5 program involve the minimum investment amounts and the type of investments that qualify. Four of the most recent proposals include:

Increasing minimum investments to $925,000 generally and $800,000 for projects in TEAs; redefining TEAs as (1) distressed rural, (2) distressed urban, and (3) closed military bases; and setting aside some visas for investors in rural projects.

Increasing minimum investments to $1 million generally and $800,000 in a targeted employment area, redefining TEAs to include priority urban areas and closed military bases, and setting aside some visas specifically for investors in rural and priority urban projects.

Increasing minimum investments to $1.2 million generally and $800,000 for investment in a targeted employment area or in an infrastructure or manufacturing project.

Increasing minimum investments to $1.8 million generally and $1.35 million in TEAs, eliminating state designation of high unemployment areas, and adding the option of defining a TEA as any city or town with high unemployment and a population of 20,000 or more. This is the Homeland Security Department’s proposal.

It is likely that changes along these lines will be adopted within the next year or so.

Consult a San Jose Investment-Based Immigration Attorney

If you want to attract foreign investment in your business, or if you are a foreign national interested in applying for an EB-5 visa, seek the assistance of an experienced Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. You need someone who understands the complexities of immigration laws in the United States and can help address any issues that may arise. At SAC Attorneys LLP, our lawyers have extensive experience helping clients resolve a wide range of immigration issues. Contact us at 408-436-0789 to arrange a free consultation.