To get an EB-5, which is sometimes called an “investment visa”, the individual must invest a minimum of $1 million in the US, plus create or preserve a minimum of 10 jobs for US workers, not including the investor or their family members. The minimum investment can be lowered to $500,000 if the investment is made in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is an area that has been designated as having high unemployment or is in a rural area.
If the foreign investor meets these criteria, they may apply for the EB-5 visa. If the visa is approved by the US Immigration and Citizenship Service (also known as the US CIS), the investor and their dependents will be granted a conditional permanent residence visa that is valid for a period of two years.
To be granted permanent citizenship, within 90 days of the conditional permanent residence expires, the individual must submit evidence documenting that the minimum required investment has been made. They must also prove that the minimum number of jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable amount of time.
Program Nearly 23 Years Old
The program began in 1992 as a way to encourage foreign investment in the US. The Congress approved a pilot in the hopes of stimulating the economy and creating new jobs for US workers.
Under the pilot program, foreign nationals were allowed to invest in a pre-approved regional center. This was a public or private economic unit that was involved with economic growth such as increasing export sales, improving regional productivity, creating jobs for US workers, or increasing the domestic capital investment.
Early Road Bumps
The EB-5 Visa program didn’t start off smoothly. Early foreign investors were wary of the program because the application process was highly complicated, it took US CIS a long time to make its rulings, and because the rules of the program were changed three years after the program was launched, resulting in the suspension of processing more than 900 applications.
Eventually, however, many of those early problems were resolved. By the end of 2011, the program had more than 3,800 applicants, compared to just 800 four years earlier. And by 2014, the program was at full capacity.
Viva Las Vegas
Today, the program is credited with breathing new life into many economic improvement projects including a boom in the construction of many new Las Vegas casinos. The Downtown Grand was the first EB-5 project in 2013, followed by the SLS which replaced the Sahara Hotel.
Other Las Vegas casino projects to benefit from investment via the EB-5 visa program include the Lucky Dragon, Dynasty Hotel Casino, Clarion Hotel, and World Resorts.