The EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”) is a federal government program managed by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The Pilot Program became law in 1993. The Pilot Program permits the EB-5 Investor and his or her spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to become Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. (i.e., obtain “green card” status).
(a) For Regional Centers: USCIS must pre-authorize EB-5 Regional Centers (“Regional Centers”) to market investment projects and raise capital from foreign investors under the Pilot Program. USCIS analyzes in detail the Regional Center’s business plan, investment projects, management team, fee structure and job creation projections.
(b) For Investors: To qualify, EB-5 Investors must meet 3 requirements: (1) make an investment of least $500,000 or $1,000,000 in a pooled investment vehicle; (2) provide detailed evidence showing that the money invested was legitimately earned, and (3) their investment must cause the creation of 10 new jobs in the U.S.A. EB-5 investors first apply for a green card using Form I-526 with hundreds of pages of supporting evidence explaining he investment project and the source of the money invested. Once Form I-526 is approved, EB-5 investors obtain a temporary 2 year conditional green card. At the end of the 2 year conditional green card, EB-5 investors must file a 2nd application with USCIS to prove that they remain invested in their project, and that their investment actually created the 10 new jobs required.
Interest in the EB-5 program has grown exponentially in recent years. USCIS received only 700 EB-5 visa petitions in 2007. That number grew to over 3400 in 2011. Over 90% of all EB-5 visa petitions are filed through investments Regional Centers. USCIS has approved more than 3,100 Form I-526 petitions in Fiscal Year 2012 to date. The Pilot Program has a total of 10,000 EB-5 visas available for it each year. No waiting lists exist at present. Most EB-5 investors originate from China.
The Pilot Program must be periodically renewed by action of Congress and the President. It was extended on September 28, 2012 by President Barack Obama through September 30, 2015.