What Is EB-5 Visa Program and How It Works?


You may have heard about the EB-5 program within the past few years. Known officially as the “Immigrant Investor Program”, it was created in 1990. This program helps people foreign to the U.S. invest in United States companies – or create companies of their own. This allows foreigners to get a green card and American citizenship – provided that the project they invest in creates 10 jobs minimum. Here are other things you should know about the EB-5 program and how it specifically works.

  1. Criteria

What is EB-5? The EB-5 program is, at the time of this writing, the only visa program that lets foreign investors obtain a green card—or permanent residence—in America. The requirements for achieving the program includes investing a minimum of $1 million in a U.S. company. You alternatively could invest half a million dollars in a company if that company is in an area where unemployment is more than 150% of the nation’s average. Your investment must be the direct result of 10 new jobs created in order to be eligible for the green card.

  1. Beginning

Only 10,000 visas were issued each year during inception. This was due to the application process (which was complicated and time-consuming), as well as high denial rates. This changed in 2005, when the Investor and Regional Center Unit was created. This unit coordinated internal processes – on top of issuing new draft recommendations.

  1. Conditional Residence

Under this program, if you are an investor, and your initial application is approved, you can then apply for something called a “conditional residence.” This means that your residence in America will last approximately two years. After that period of time, you can then apply to either have the conditions removed or have the residency be made permanent. (Provided you met the mentioned criteria.)

  1. Large Scale vs. Small Business

EB-5 funded businesses rarely make it into the news – no matter who runs the company, how innovative the teams’ ideas are, or how many people the core mission helps. This is because foreign investors are attracted to developments that are higher scale and higher-profile than small businesses. This makes it hard for small business owners to raise the funds necessary to keep themselves afloat when times are tough.

  1. Hard Times

Sadly, the EB-5 is still a provisional program – despite all its successes and the amount of jobs that were created directly as a result of investors taking the opportunity to enroll in the program. The program, however, is not without its setbacks. Its “expiration date” keeps looming near, and Congress has to reauthorize the program several times to keep it running.

  1. Patience

Anybody who’s gone through the EB-5 process has undoubtedly experienced frustration and had their patience tested. This is because receiving the visa card that allows you U.S. residency is not something that is taken lightly. Consulates and people are required—by law—to thoroughly research all they can about you, and “move a lot of parts” to make sure that things happen as they should. This is why it is advisable for you to contact the EB-5 Regional Center that’s in your dream, which are designed to match individual projects with proper investments. This makes the ordeal run a lot more smoothly.


These are just a few of the things you should know about the EB-5 program. Should you decide that this visa is the right one for you, I encourage you to find out more. There are many visa programs that match different conditions.