The EB-5 green card is designed to allow investors who make an investment of $1,000,000 or more (in some cases $500,000) into a US company, and create a minimum of 10 US jobs with that investment, to get permanent resident status. The USCIS grants a temporary 2-year green card at first, allowing the entrepreneur the opportunity to turn the investment into 10 new US jobs. At the end of the two-year period the investor must demonstrate that the investment has been made and that the jobs have been created for a permanent green card to be issued.
The investment must be in a new commercial enterprise, which is any business established after November 29, 1990.
The investor must invest $1,000,000 of personal assets and put them at risk in the US enterprise. Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered. Capital, for the purpose of the EB-5 green card, cannot be borrowed.
There are two primary ways to invest for the purposes of an EB-5 green card.
1) Create a new business and work in that business. This is often desired by individuals who are already in the US and have created a new business while on an E-2 or L-1 visa. The processing time for applicants who invest in their own business is shorter than for those who invest in regional centers.
2) Invest in a regional center. Regional centers are projects that have already been approved by the USCIS as potentially qualify for EB-5 investment. In this situation the investor usually is passive, contributing funds to the project but nothing further. The USCIS approval of a regional center does not guarantee the approval of an individual EB-5 petition or a return on investment. A full list of current regional centers can be found here.