Annually, tens of thousands of individuals from across the world strive to gain legal entry into the United States and consequently become permanent residents. This is never the most straightforward endeavor as the nation has put in place stringent measures that only see a small percentage of these applicants become successful. It is, therefore, cut-throat competition for many people, whose dream is to become citizens of the USA; thereby earning the legal right to live, work, learn and invest in the nation. Overly, the primary channel for non-USA residents to become citizens of the country is by first obtaining the much-elusive Green Card.
There are different channels for attaining the Green Card, and the main categories are;
- Winning the Green Card lottery
- Family unification programs
- Employment-based categories
However, there is one little-known channel that has been termed as the ‘golden egg’ to acquiring American citizenship and that is the EB-5 visa. This program was introduced in 1990, and its primary aim was to allow foreign investors to have a shot at attaining the Green Card. Under this program, the foreign national was to make a significant investment in the country and consequently become considered for permanent citizenship. The suitability of this program was particularly given lots of focus during the Great Recession when there was a need to look for alternative funding sources for businesses and projects. There was also the need to revive the economy, and money pumped from foreign sources proved to be highly effective in lots of areas.
Initially, individuals who wanted to use this channel to attaining legal entry into the USA were required to invest at least half a million ($500,000) in high-unemployment areas. Investments in other areas that were not considered as high-unemployment zones necessitated an investment of $1 million. It is not just the investment that counted, but there was a need for the project to create at least ten long-term jobs for Americans. Over the past two decades, mainly the period between 2000 and 2018, the demand for the EB-5 visa has massively grown. Statistics from the US state department show that in this period, over 80,000 visas have been issued to applicants and their family members. The countries with the highest number of beneficiaries have been China and South Korea that have large application volumes.
However, the year 2019 marked significant changes to the minimum requirements for EB-5 visa applicants, especially when it comes to the investment amounts. Potential investors who want to know the total EB 5 visa cost today must take into account that there are new capital requirements. Instead of having to invest $500,000 in targeted employment areas (TEA), the recently introduced congress changes require one to invest $900,000. This initial investment amount has also been increased for investors targeting non-TEA from $1 million to $1.8 million. Under the EB-5 program, this is the most significant cost for consideration as it determines an applicant’s eligibility according to the new rules.
Nonetheless, besides this initial investment amount, there are other additional costs for EB-5 investors that can never be ignored. Firstly, there is the immigration attorney fee as these specialists handle the legal aspects of the demanding immigration process. The fees paid to these professional varies and is primarily determined by the attorney one settle for, with the average cost being between $15,000 to $25,000. Investors must also be ready to pay the EB-5 application process, which primarily includes the I-526 filing fee of $3,675, the I-485 filing fee of $1,140, and the I-829 filing fee of $3,750.
For many EB-5 investors, a suitable channel for investment in the United States is through regional centers. These government-approved centers play a critical role as they make it easier for investors to have a hands-off approach to investing in the nation. A regional center will pool investments from different investors before directing them to specially-designated projects. As a result, it becomes easier for investors to attain the required threshold of direct and indirect jobs created. Most importantly, investors get to have a team of certified professionals manages their investments, eliminating the need for direct involvements. Regional centers will always charge an administration fee for their duties, and this is a cost that investors must equally be prepared to pay. The fee varies but is approximately $50,000 and is never considered as part of the initial investment.Updated Date: 16 January 2020, 16:59