The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: An Opportunity for Russians and Other Foreign Investors to Live and Stay in the U.S.

»Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Immigration | 0 comments

Every year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the United States government grants 10,000 visas through the EB-5 program to foreign nationals who are willing to invest $500,000 or $1 million in the U.S. for the creation of new commercial enterprises which, in turn, will either preserve or create 10 full-time jobs for qualified American workers.

The EB-5 Program, also known as the employment fifth preference visa, was approved by the U.S. Congress in 1990. The purpose of its creation was to boost the growth of the nation’s economy through capital investment and job creation by foreign investors. Two years later, the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program, was also formed.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is the easiest way for wealthy foreign nationals (and their families) to obtain a U.S. Green Card. The required amount of investment is $1 million for the creation of a new commercial enterprise and $500,000 if the investment is to be made in a Regional Center.

In accordance with USCIS definitions, a commercial enterprise refers to any type of “for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:

  • A sole proprietorship;
  • Partnership (whether limited or general);
  • Holding company;
  • Joint venture;
  • Corporation;
  • Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned;
  • A commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.”

An EB-5 Regional Center (RC), on the other hand, is a service agent organization which has been designated by the USCIS for the purpose helping EB-5 investors complete a project and meet the requirements mandated under the EB-5 Program. There are 1,203 EB-5 Regional Centers all across the U.S.; this includes the 851 regional centers approved by the USCIS this August 1, 2016.

For the first time since 2007, when only 700 EB-5 visas were issued by the USCIS, the 10,000 annual quota was reached both in 2014 and 2015, with more than 90% of those granted the visa coming from China.

Besides China, another country, from which the U.S. has welcomed a steady flow of immigrants, is Russia. Wealthy Russians immigrating to the U.S. began to increase in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after realizing that their country will not be able to provide a suitable investment environment where they can protect their wealth. The plummeting of the Russian stock market and the Russian ruble in March of 2014, however, has had unfavorable effects on those planning on investing in the U.S. as it made the $500,000 EB-5 investment now cost up to about 50% more in rubles than it did just a few years past. Fortunately, a lot of wealthy Russians who would qualify under the EB-5 program have dollar and/or Euro currency accounts outside of Russia.

Before 2014, economists predicated that the Crimean crisis will eventually tip the Russian economy into a recession – obviously an accurate prediction. This economic uncertainty is also considered by many economist to be a major factor that will push potential Russian EB-5 Investors to make their investment sooner.

There is no faster way for Russian foreigners, who can make the investment, to obtain a Green Card for themselves and their families than via the EB-5 program. An EB-5 will save applicants lengthy delays and wait times, as well as the possible rejection of their application as is the case in other employment-based visa programs due to many applicants’ failure to meet qualifications and requirements. However, due to the big amount involved in making the investment, it will be wise to seek assistance from an experienced legal team that will not only help applicants determine if the EB-5 program is really right for them, but also help applicants pursue and monitor their application.

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