The Facts About the 'Investment Green Card'
If you work with any international customers--and 28 percent of REALTORS® do, according to research by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®--you've likely learned about the many hurdles to obtaining permanent residency in the United States.
April 1, 2011
Because of this, many foreign nationals have held back from buying here. But for clients with the financial wherewithal, there’s a viable option—the Regional Center EB-5 Program, informally known as the investment visa or the investment green card.
Here’s what you need to know about the investment your clients will be required to make in a so-called "regional center."
WHAT IS IT?
The "investment green card" has been around since the 1990s but it didn’t see much use until a few years ago. The program is intended to attract high-wealth foreign households by offering them a green card for full-time residency in the United States in exchange for an investment in federally approved public or private development projects, such as new office buildings, shopping centers, or condominiums. If foreign investors can show their investment has created at least 10 jobs in the United States, then, after about 12 to 18 months, they can get a green card without the sponsorship of an employer or family member. Because of the role of the regional centers, the program is called the Regional Center EB-5 program.
The minimum investment to qualify is $500,000.
The money must be invested in one of the 130 or so approved regional centers; additional centers are going through the approval stage, so that number will rise. Investment requirements can go up to $1 million, depending on the center.
Jobs must be created as a result.
It’s the developer’s responsibility to prove to the federal government that the project will create a minimum of 10 jobs, either directly or indirectly, in the community.
Risk is inherent.
Investors must go into the program with the same expectation they’d have of any other investment: that it could lose money. In any case, expect the funds to be tied up for several years due to regulatory requirements.
There are no geographic restrictions.
Investors can live anywhere in the country as long as the investment is in an approved regional center.
The green card comes later.
Once all regulations are complied with, the investors should get a green card within a year or so. Two years later, an investor must file an application to prove that the investment has been sustained over that time and the jobs have been created.
Source: H. Ronald Klasko is managing partner of Klasko, Rulon, Stock & Seltzer LLP, Philadelphia and New York. More information on the investment visa is available at www.eb5immigration.com.