The EB-5 program, which allows individuals from other
countries to obtain permanent residency visas by investing in commercial
enterprises in the United States, has been an effective means of stimulating
economic growth and job creation since its inception over 20 years ago.


The way the EB-5 program (also called the Immigrant Investor
Program) works is fairly straightforward: foreign nationals who invest at least
$500,000 in new commercial enterprises that create or preserve ten direct or
indirect full-time jobs in the U.S. are eligible to receive conditional permanent


Under one EB-5 program option, an investor can invest a
minimum of $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise that is located in a rural
or high unemployment area, together known as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).  According to the United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services agency (USCIS), which oversees the EB-5 program, a
rural area is a community that is located outside a metropolitan area or has a
population of 20,000 or more, while an area with an unemployment rate 150% of
the national rate is considered a high unemployment area.


Another option available to foreign investors under the EB-5
program is to invest at least $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise in
anywhere in the United States and create ten full-time jobs.


Foreign investors seeking a permanent visa through the EB-5
program often use a Regional Center to facilitate the process.  A Regional Center designated by USCIS helps
these commercial enterprises raise money and develop a business plan which
could improve the likelihood that the investment will pay off.


Unfortunately, the application process for obtaining an EB-5
visa or approval for regional center designation could take several
months.  However, last year USCIS
announced that under certain circumstances, the agency will provide an
expedited review of some EB-5 petitions. 


Under the proposed rule, foreign investors can seek
expedited review of an application for Regional Center designation for a
fee.  The processing fee will reduce the
time it takes for review of a Regional Center application from several months
to as little as two weeks.  Moreover,
individuals setting up a Regional Center will have the opportunity to speak
directly with USCIS officials over the telephone to resolve some issues and
answer questions that previously involved a longer and more complicated
bureaucratic process.


Up to 10,000 permanent residency visas, or green cards, may
be awarded each year through the EB-5 program. 
At least 3,000 EB-5 visas can be issued to foreign investors who invest
in Regional Centers.  In the more than 20
years since the program was established by Congress, that annual quota of
10,000 visas has never been met. 
Nevertheless, this employment-based immigration program has been highly
successful and popular, and has recently been renewed.