Immigration by Investment

        If a person is ready, willing and able to invest $1,000,000 in a business in the United States they can obtain United States citizenship.  There are circumstances where the investment is only required to be $500,000.00.  There are rules and conditions that must be followed.  A mistake can put someone’s citizenship at risk.

        The program is known as the “Immigrant Investor” visa or EB-5 visa.  It requires the future United States citizen to invest $1,000,000.00 dollars in a business that creates and maintains 10 new jobsin the United States.  There is a requirement that an investor have an “Active Role” in the management of the business.

        “Active Role”, however, does not mean day to day managing of the investment.  It is important that the future citizen follow the law exactly to ensure that citizenship is not placed in jeopardy.  Also, it is necessary to have a “business plan” which the United States government must approve in order to proceed with citizenship.

        There are several important exceptions to these rules.  These are very important to know. One exception is the minimum required investment of one million dollars.  It is possible to reduce this number by half.  One way to accomplish this is by investing in an area that has very high unemployment.  High unemployment is defined as 150% of the national average.

       A reduced investment can be obtained by investing in an area that is considered “rural”. United States immigration law describes a “rural” population center as one that has a population that is less than 20,000 people.

        There is an exception to the rule that 10 jobs must be created when one invests in a business that qualifies as a “troubled business”.  A troubled business is one that has suffered a 20% loss over the last 12 to 24 months.  These businesses do not require any job creation.  In the case of a “troubled business” simply maintaining existing jobs is acceptable.

        Citizenship can be had by making an investment in a Regional Center.  A potential citizen can also invest in an individual enterprise that is not a “Regional Center” but meets the qualifications set forth by the United States Government.  An advantage of a regional center is that the job creation can be either direct or indirect.  With a direct investment the job creation must be direct.

        One advantage of making a direct investment is that one has more control in an investment.  This allows an individual to guarantee both their investment and their immigration status.  Applicants should realize that there have been problems with regional centers.

       For example, a regional center in Victorville, California was terminated for not following the rules.  There have also been some people that have experienced delays of their approvals in certain regional centers.

        Not all regional centers are created equal.  Some have responsible and conservative management.  Other regional centers do not use quality practices.  It is important to be informed and educated about any investments.

         The immigration by investment visa, the EB-5, is an exciting program that can be used to obtain citizenship.  It is important that all of the many forms are filled out properly and it is important that all rules are followed closely.  The requirements are fairly straightforward but it is important that no mistakes are made or citizenship can be lost.

       For additional information, visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website or call attorney Stephen Foster at 210-222-1117.  If you are outside the United States, feel free to contact Stephen Foster at [email protected].  If you prefer, take a look at a list of our global numbers.