EB-5 - Immigrant Investor Visa Pilot Program

The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 in October 1992 (“Pilot Program”). This Pilot Program began in accordance with a Congressional mandate aimed at stimulating economic activity and creating jobs for U.S. workers, while simultaneously affording eligible immigrant investors the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents. Generally, the requirements specify that to qualify for a permanent resident visa under the Pilot Program an investor must invest one million dollars in a new commercial enterprise ($500,000 if the new commercial enterprise is in a Targeted Employment Area or a Rural Area), with an approved regional center, which creates 10 new full-time jobs. The Pilot Program allows investors to use indirect employment to meet the 10 job minimum requirement for each investor as long as the investor invests his capital in a “designated” regional center.

Of the 10,000 EB-5 category visas allocated for each year, initially 300 were reserved for investment in regional centers. This number was increased to 3,000 reserved for investment in regional centers when the program was renewed in 1997.

Although widely supported when initially passed as a method to infuse new capital in the country, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program has been identified as one of the most underutilized provision in the Immigration Act of 1990. Between 1992 and 2004, 130,000 visas were available under this program, while only 6,024 visas were used. After several years of discrepancies in interpretation, the USCIS has now taken steps to focus on this program and has set a goal to make this program work the way it was intended. In January, 2009, the USCIS consolidated its processing of the EB-5 regional center applications into one service center and set consistent guidelines to be followed. As recently as June 17, 2009 the USCIS published a policy memorandum to aid in the processing and approval of applications under this program. USCIS has stated that it will work with all applicants to assist with success.



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