The EB-5 program has received growing attention in recent weeks. In these days of tight credit, particularly for commercial real estate development, the EB-5 Program provides an attractive alternative to conventional real estate finance for a wide variety of projects. The program creates foreign investment by allowing a person, with qualifying immediate family members, to obtain permanent resident (green card) status by investing in a new U.S. commercial enterprise, and creating or saving 10 full time U.S. jobs. The usual required investment is $1 million, but this amount is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a rural area or area of high unemployment. The EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program permits the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to designate qualified applicants as regional centers eligible to accept EB-5 investments from foreign investors to generate job creating economic development within the United States. Through the Regional Centers, the job creation requirement can be met either directly or indirectly, through the establishment of sufficient economic activity to permit USCIS to conclude that the job creation requirement will be met. After the investment is approved by USCIS, the investor receives conditional residence status for a period of two years. This conditional status is removed and the unconditional permanent resident status is awarded, if the investor shows at the end of such period that the investment has been maintained and that the required jobs have been created or saved. The time to attain this status is relatively short compared to other green card application options.
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