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EB5 Investors

EB-5 Visa Glossary

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Accountants: accountants maintain financial records and prepare financial and tax reports. Accountants often help EB-5 projects or Regional Centers track EB-5 qualifying expenditures to be tracked at the I-829 stage. Likewise, accountants can also help prepare evidence for I-526, I-829, and I-924 applications.

Accreditation Questionnaire: prospective EB-5 investors often complete accreditation questionnaires in which they affirm that they are accredited investors and, therefore, qualify for certain U.S. securities laws exemptions while participating in the EB-5 program.

Accredited Investor: accredited investors are eligible to invest in types of high risk investments including hedge funds, angel investment, and limited partnerships. An individual can be designated as an accredited investor if they have a net worth of $1 million or more. An individual may also qualify as an accredited investor if they are single and have made $200,000 or more in the previous years or have made $300,000 or more in the previous two years if they are married.

Biometrics: most visa applicants must obtain biometrics services. Biometrics collect information that enable U.S. authorities to identify via holders. Biometric services typically entail fingerprinting, taking the applicant’s photograph, and conducting a background check.

Business Plan Writers: help to prepare Matter of Ho compliant business plans for use in EB-5 filings.

California Service Center: all EB-5 program applications are processed at the USCIS California Service Center in Laguna Niguel, California.

Conditional Permanent Resident: conditional permanent residents are those who have been granted a green card but who have certain restrictions on their residency. EB-5 investors become two year conditional permanent residents after either their I-485 or DS-230 has been approved. Investors must apply for permanent residency within 90 days prior to the expiration of their two year conditional period.

Consular Processing/ DS-230: the DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration is submitted by EB-5 investors with approved I-526 petitions who are not in the U.S. in a valid non-immigrant visa status. This process is commonly known as “consular processing.” Once an applicant’s I-526 is approved their file is sent by the USCIS to the National Visa Center which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State. The completed forms along with other applications materials are sent by the NVC to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the applicant’s home country. Consular processing applicants must attend an in-person interview where they are issued an immigrant visa. Upon issuance of the immigrant visa, an applicant and their dependent family members are permitted to enter the U.S. Permanent residency status commences on the first date of entry into the U.S. and the green card is mailed to the applicants shortly after their first entry on the immigrant visa.

Corporate Attorneys: corporate securities attorneys help structure EB-5 investment projects and help ensure that investors do not run into securities issues with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Department of State: the Department of State is responsible for maintenance of the international affairs of the United States. The Department of State overseas the operations of all of the U.S. embassies and consulates located around the world. Those who submit the DS-230 application during the EB-5 visa process must file it with the Department of State.

Direct Equity Model: Investors receive equity in existing project company in exchange for investing capital to be used for the company’s job creating project.

Direct Jobs: EB-5 investments made to non-Regional Center projects must result in the creation of 10 fulltime direct jobs for U.S. workers for two years. Direct jobs are identifiable jobs that are created directly within the commercial enterprise that receives the EB-5 investment. Direct jobs can be created in both an individual investment or a Regional Center project.

Diversity Visa Program: the Diversity Visa Program, also known as the Immigrant Visa Lottery, makes 50,000 annual U.S. visas available to immigrants from countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States. The applicants apply for the lottery online and a computer program chooses visa recipients at random.

Due Diligence Questionnaire: prospective EB-5 investors often complete due diligence questionnaires prior to making their investment in a U.S. business entity. The due diligence questionnaire demonstrates that the investor has fully researched their investment and the business project that will receive their investment.

EB-5 Job Creation Requirement: EB-5 visa applicants must preserve or create at least 10 fulltime U.S. jobs. These jobs must be created or preserved within two years after the investor became a conditional permanent resident.

EB-5 program: the EB-5 program enables foreign investors to obtain their permanent residency (“green cards”) by investing in a U.S. business. Also referred to as the Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference, EB-5 applicants are typically required to invest either $500,000 or $1 million dollars in order to qualify for the program. The applicant’s investment must lead to the creation of 10 fulltime U.S. jobs for a two year period. After the program has been completed, EB-5 investors, their unmarried children under 21, and their spouse can permanently live and work in the United States.

EB-5 Project: the individual businesses that receive EB-5 investments are referred to as EB-5 projects. Investors can create their own EB-5 project by investing in a U.S. business or they can invest in an EB-5 project that is managed by an EB-5 Regional Center.

EB-5 Regional Center Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”): this program introduced the Regional Center concept and was established by Congress in 1990. The program, which is also referred to as EB-5, was established in order to stimulate the U.S. economy through foreign capital investment and job creation.

EB-5 Regional Center: Regional Centers can be either private or public economic entities that promote job creation, regional productivity, domestic capital investment, and economic growth. Approximately 90-95% percent of all EB-5 petitions are made through USCIS designated Regional Centers.

Economists: economists typically assist EB-5 regional centers in demonstrating indirect and induced employment creation through the RIMS II, IMPLAN, REDYN, REMI and other acceptable economic models. Economists also assist in obtaining TEA designations from various state agencies.

Employment Based Immigrant Visas: employment based immigrant visas provide foreign workers with the basis to obtain their US permanent residency. Examples of employment based preference categories include EB-1 for individuals of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers or professor, multinational managers or executive, EB-2 for foreign workers with advanced degrees or specializations and individuals whose immigration is in the national interest of the U.S., EB-3 for professionals with Bachelor’s degrees or equivalent work experience, EB-4 visas for religious workers and specialty immigrant workers, and EB-5 visas for immigrant investors.

Employment Based Visas: employment based visas enable foreign workers to obtain their U.S. permanent residency. Examples of employment based visas include EB-1 visas for specialty workers, EB-2 visas for foreign workers with advanced degrees or specializations, EB-3 visas for professionals, EB-4 visas for special workers, and EB-5 visas for foreign investors.

Expansion of Existing Business: an existing business may be eligible to receive an EB-5 investment if that investment increases the number of employees or net worth of the business by at least 40%.

Family Preference Immigrant Visas: family preference immigrant visas are reserved for non-immediate family members of U.S. citizens. Those who are eligible for family preference immigrant visas include a U.S. citizen’s married children of any age, siblings, and unmarried children over the age of 21. Examples of family preference immigrant visas include F-1 visas for unmarred children, F-3 visas for married children, and F-4 visas for siblings.

Fund Model: Investors receive equity in new investment fund in exchange for investing capital to be used to invest in debt or equity of the job creating project company.

General Partner: an owner of a business entity whose actions are binding on the other partners, who has control of the entity, and who incurs personal liability for any debts accumulated by the entity.

Green Card: the colloquial term for the United States Lawful permanent resident card. Individuals with a valid green card are lawful permanent residents who can live and work permanently in the United States.

H1B Visa: H1B visas enable foreign workers to immigrate to the United States to work at U.S. business. To qualify for an H1B visa, the applicant must work in a specialty industry such as a law, computer programming, science, or engineering.

I-485: the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is filed by approved EB_5 applicants and their dependent family members in the U.S. The I-485 can be submitted to the USCIS once the I-526 petition is approved. Once approved, the I-485 provides EB-5 investors and their dependents with conditional green cards for a period of two years.

I-526: the I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur is the first application that is filed by EB-5 applicants with the USCIS. This petition contains evidence proving that the EB-5 applicant will be eligible for the program. Once approved, the I-526 becomes the basis of the applications for permanent residency made by the EB-5 investor, their spouse, and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

I-829: the I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions is the last petition that is filed by EB-5 visa applicants with the USCIS. The I-829 must contain evidence that the immigrant investor has met all requirements of the EB-5 program in accordance with the business plan and economic report (if a regional center petition) included in their initial I-526 filing. The I-829 removes any previous conditions on the applicant’s U.S. residency so that EB-5 investors, their spouse, and their unmarried children under 21 years of age become lawful permanent residents once it is approved.

I-924 Initial Application: Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.

I-924A Amendment Application: Supplement to Form I-924. This amendment demonstrates that a Regional Center has maintained its edibility with the USCIS.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas: immediate relative immigrant visas are reserved for the parents, unmarried children under the age of 21, and spouse of U.S. citizens. Examples of immediate relative immigrant visas include the IR-1 visa for spouses, IR-2 visas for unmarried children, and IR-5 visas for parents of U.S. citizens.

Immigrant Visa: visa categories that enable foreign nationals to become permanent residents of the United States. Immigrant visas are based on:

  • Familial relationships
  • Employment
  • Diversity Visa Lottery
  • Asylum

Immigration Act of 1990: the US Congress’ Immigration Act of 1990 made many reforms to the US immigration system and first introduced the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

Immigration Attorneys: immigration attorneys help applicants obtain their U.S. visas. Although not required for visa applications, immigration attorneys regularly assist applicants seeking visas for various visa categories. Immigration attorneys help prepare and file all applications that are submitted to the USCIS or U.S. Department of States.

Indirect Jobs: indirect jobs can count towards the job creation requirements of the EB-5 program if the investment is made to an EB-5 Regional Center. Indirect jobs are those created in a commercial enterprise that is affiliated with a Regional Center either collaterally or as a result of the EB-5 capital investment.

Induced Jobs: induced jobs can be counted towards EB-5 job creation requirements if the investment has been made through a Regional Center. Induced jobs are employment positions that are created as a result of EB-5 project employees spending their income on goods and services within the greater geographic community where the EB-5 project is located.

Investment: funds invested with the purpose of furthering the business objectives of an enterprise or firm.

J-1 Visa: J-1 visas enable work and study exchange program participants to enter the United States for a temporary period of time. Examples of programs that J-1 visa holders can participate in include academic, governmental, or private sector programs.

Limited Liability Company: a business structure in which the owners incur limited personal liability for any debts that are incurred by the company. Limited liability companies can also provide management flexibility.

Limited Partner: a member of a business entity partnership who has limited liability toward debt based on the extent of their investment.

Limited Partnership: a business partnership that has one or more limited partners and one or more general partners.

Lobbyists: EB-5 lobbyists educate United States politicians about the benefits of the EB-5 program. Lobbyists attempt to have politicians pass legislation that will improve the EB-5 visa program. EB-5 lobbyists also help ensure that the EB-5 program is consistently renewed by Congress.

Marketing/Migration Agents: migration agents are professionals who help prospective EB-5 applicants. Migration agents typically work directly in the prospective applicant’s home country and they help the prospective applicants figure out which visa program may be best for them. Migration agents also help EB-5 applicants find EB-5 investment opportunities.

National Visa Center: the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes visa application through the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC collects visas and all the supporting evidence that is submitted by visa applicants. The NVC makes this information accessible for U.S. embassies and consulates so the information can be accessed during interviews conducted at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

Naturalization: naturalization is the process that an individual must go through to become a United States citizen. EB-5 applicants are eligible to naturalize five years after issuance of their initial conditional green card. Applicants must file an N-400, Application for Naturalization, undergo biometrics services, establish good moral character, meet physical presence requirements, pass English language requirements, and pass a United States civics test to complete the naturalization process.

New Commercial Enterprise: EB-5 investment must be made to a for profit business entity that was created after November 29, 1990. There are four types of eligible EB-5 investments: saving an existing troubled business, reorganizing an existing business to such an extent that it becomes a new enterprise, expanding an existing business, or creating an entirely new business.

Non-immigrant Visa: enable immigrants to live in the United States for a temporary period of time. Non-immigrant visas include visitor visas, tourist visas, student and exchange program visas, and temporary worker visas.

Permanent Resident Family Member Visa: permanent resident family member visas are reserved for family members of permanent residents. Family members that may be eligible for permanent resident family member visas include minor children, unmarried children over the age of 21, and the spouse of permanent residents. An example of permanent resident family member visas includes the F-1 visa.

Premium Processing: premium processing expedites some USCIS application decisions for applicants who pay a heightened fee. USCIS has stated that a premium processing fee structure will be available for I-924 applications but it has yet to be introduced.

Private Placement Memorandum (PPM): private placement memorandums are documents drawn up between those seeking capital, for instance EB-5 Regional Centers, and investors. PPMs outline the requirements and potential financial risks that investors face in making an investment to a particular business. The PPM then protects the business that received the investment if the something goes wrong during the course of the investment. Businesses seeking Regional Center designation must submit a sample PPM to the USCIS.

Project Owners: principal managers of EB-5 projects. Project owners often search for EB-5 investors who are willing to fund potential business projects.

Rural Area: a geographic area outside of a town or city that has a population of at least 20,000, according to the decennial census. Or a geographic region that is not within an Office of Management and Budget metropolitan statistical area.

SEC: the Securities and Exchange Commission is a United States federal agency that regulates stock and options exchanges and the securities industry. Securities regulations impact EB-5 in several ways: disclosures that must be made in the offering process, dictating when a regional center or fund must register with the SEC or equivalent state agency and the way in which EB-5 investments are marketed and sold.

Securities: a security is a financial instrument that represents financial capital. Examples of securities include derivative contracts, equity securities, and debt securities. Securities are held to strict regulations by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). EB-5 investments may be subject to strict SEC oversight unless the EB-5 applicant qualifies as an accredited investor.

Source of Funds: EB-5 investors must provide evidence that their investment funds originated from a lawful source.

Student and Exchange Program Visas: student and exchange program visas enable foreign residents to come to the U.S. to participate in exchange programs. Examples of student and exchange program visas include F-1 visas for students, J-1 visas for those in cultural or educational exchange programs, and M-1 visas that are granted to those participating in vocational programs.

Subscription Agreement: SEC documents usually consist of a subscription agreement, LP or LLC agreement and PPM. To become a member of the LP or LLC you must subscribe to the entity. You must accept all of the provisions contained in the subscription agreement and it must be counter-signed by the managing member of the LLC or the general partner of the LP.

TEA: a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is a geographic area that is subject to lessened EB-5 investment amount requirements. EB-5 investors who invest in a business that is located in a TEA may qualify to invest $500,000 instead of the usual $1 million. TEAs are locations with high unemployment or that are rural areas.

Temporary Worker Visa: temporary worker visas are granted to workers who will be entering the U.S. for business for a temporary period of time. Examples of temporary visas include H1B visas for specialized professionals, H2A visas for seasonal agricultural workers, H2B visas for seasonal non-agricultural workers, L visas for workers who transfer to the US, and others.

Tracing of Funds: all EB-5 visa applicants must prove that their capital investment funds originate from lawful sources. Applicants are often required to provide tax records, business documentation, and other financial documents that prove the legality of their funds. The USCIS often upholds very strong evidence requirements for tracing of funds which can slow the EB-5 visa application process.

Troubled Business: a business that is at least two years old that has experienced a net loss during the one to two year period prior to the investor’s I-526 priority date.

US Citizen: there are two main categories of United States Citizens; those who became citizens at birth and those who became citizens through the naturalization process. Individuals become U.S. citizens at birth if they were born to a US parent or if they were born within a territory that the United States has jurisdiction over. To become a citizen after birth, individuals must go through the naturalization process. United States citizens enjoy many benefits such as the right to vote, seek federal employment, and run for elected office.

US Permanent Resident: a permanent resident, is an immigrant who has received a green card which enables them to live and work in the United States permanently. EB-5 investors receive conditional permanent resident status after approval of either their I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status or their entry into the U.S. on an immigrant visa issued to them during consular processing. Individuals receive permanent resident status in the U.S. after the approval of their I-829 petitions to remove conditions of residency.

USCIS EB-5 Decision Board: a board of USCIS experts who adjudicate I-924 applications and determine whether or not business will receive Regional Center designation. The board is composed of economists, attorneys, and USCIS adjudicators.

USCIS: the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the U.S. federal agency that is responsible for processing and administering most U.S. visas. The USCIS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The USCIS regulates the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

Visitor Visa: visitor visas enable foreigners to temporarily visit the US. Examples of visitor visas include B-1 visas for those visiting the U.S. on business and B-2 visas which are for those visiting the U.S. for medical treatment or tourism.

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