Under the current rules of the EB-5 Visa program (aka the Immigrant Investor Visa Program), eligible immigrant investors may become permanent residents with a ‘green card’ by investing cold hard cash. Designed to stimulate the U.S. economy, this program became law in 1990. Currently, the required investment is $1 million in standard areas, or $500,000 in rural or areas with high unemployment.
Effective November 21, 2019, the necessary cash rises to $900,000 in targeted employment areas (TEAs) and $1.8 million in standard areas. TEAs are defined as ‘only cities and towns with a population of 20,000 or more outside of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)…’ The investment must also create at least 10 jobs, the funds must be acquired through legal means, and the investment must be an at-risk investment (investing $500,000 in Coca Cola in a small southern town won’t be sufficient!)
Recent statistics from the DHS Immigration Yearbook put the number of issued EB-5 Visas at a low of 346 in 2005 to a high of 10,692 in 2014, down to 9,764 in 2015.
The Department of Homeland Security hopes the forthcoming changes will aid in standardizing high-unemployment designations. Proponents of the EB-5 Visa reform believe the redesigned program will revitalize rural and economically stagnant areas, as it was originally designed. Critics call this program little more than selling green cards to rich foreigners.