Jewish Journal

EB-5 Green card

by Cedric M. Shen

March 4, 2011 | 9:53 am

Some of you may have heard that you could pay a certain amount of money to get a green card.  Guess what?  It’s true – though it’s not that simple.  The EB-5 investor green card allows foreign nationals to invest $500,000.00 to $1 million in an enterprise.  For new investments in non-rural, non-targeted employment areas (TEA), the investment must be $1 million and create 10 direct jobs.  The foreign national must also direct oversee the development of the enterprise.  If the investment is in a rural area, or a TEA, you only need to invest $500,000.00, demonstrate the creation of 10 indirect jobs, and you do not have to be directly involved in overseeing the business.  To qualify for a TEA, an area must have an unemployment rate of 150% of the national average.
What do I need to do?

Generally, a foreign national has to put the entire $500,000.00 or $1 million at risk.  The funds may be derived from gifts, but they must come from lawful sources.  Upon deposit of the funds, the application process takes approximately six months.  Upon approval, the foreign national receives conditional residency.  Approximately two years after, the foreign national must apply to remove the condition, thereby making him/her a permanent resident.
Is there an easier way to get a green card?

Needless to say, most foreign nationals seeking a green card would opt for the $500,000.00 green card since: 1) it’s half the price; 2) does not require direct management of day-to-day operations; and 3) it only needs to show the creation of 10 indirect jobs.  However, applying for an EB-5 green card and demonstrating that your new/proposed business meets the requirements takes a lot of time and money.  Fortunately, foreign nationals looking for a green card with minimal effort can look to investing in a Designated Regional Center.
What is a designated regional center?

A designated regional center (RC) is a USCIS pre-approved investment/enterprise that has already met the requirements to accept $500,000.00 investments in exchange for a green card.  In other words, investors do not have to show that the enterprise is in a TEA or rural area, or that it has created 10 jobs.  This has already been done by the individuals/groups who created and had the RC approved.  All the foreign national has to do is invest $500,000.00 in the RC of his/her choice.
There are approximately 130 regional centers in the United States.  However, many of them are shell companies that were started simply to get investors – but not offering any legitimate business to invest in.  As a result, most of investors in these regional centers have their EB-5 application for green cards denied.  There are probably only a handful of regional centers that are legitimate, operating companies.  These centers have 100% – or near 100% – approval rates for EB-5 green cards.  Any denials in the green cards usually stem from the source of investor funds – and not from your business program.  Thus, even though there are a lot of regional centers, investors only have a few choices if they want a good shot at getting a green card.  If your business proposal fits this mold, Maximilian Law Inc. can help you target overseas investors who want a green card and possibly a small return on investment, then you can be one of the very few regional centers that investors would flock to.
What if I want to create a Regional Center to attract foreign investors?

In addition to investing in a RC, you can also apply to become a RC.  This is a very lengthy process, not unlike applying for an EB-5 green card through conventional (non-RC) means.  There is a moratorium on these regional centers at the moment because so many people want to get on the band wagon.  As such, there is about a one and a half year wait from the time any application is filed. They are also very complicated to set up.  However, they can be very lucrative for your business after it is approved.


Some of the benefits of an EB-5 green card have already been discussed.  You get a green card within six months and are thus free to live, work, study and do anything you want in this country (legal, of course!).  Another benefit is that your spouse and children under 21 all get green cards under the same $500,000.00 investment!  So if you are married with four children, that’s 6 green cards for $500,000.00 (if you invest in a RC).  Pretty good bang for your buck, huh?

Most foreign investors put the $500,000.00/$1 million simply to get a green card and don’t expect a return on investment.  However, some of the legitimate RC’s do, in fact, offer a return on your investment.  So for those of you who want something more than just a green card, picking the right RC could yield a financial return that would be, as they say, “icing on the cake.


Since the EB-5 program started, approximately 90% of all foreign investors elect to apply for EB-5 green cards through an existing regional center rather than creating their own investment enterprise.

There were 110 applications for new proposed regional center applications in 2010, with 71% of the applications being approved.

1,955 foreign investors filed EB-5 green card applications in 2010.  Only 332 applications were filed in 2005, and the numbers have gone up drastically since then.  It is expected that even more investors will apply in the coming years.

89% of foreign investors who applied for an EB-5 green card in 2010 had their applications approved.

41% of the approved green cards were granted to citizens of China.  16% came from citizens of South Korea.

The current processing time for the USCIS to adjudicate a proposed regional center application is 5 months.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in investing in a Regional Center.  We can match you with a designated RC that best suits your comfort level and get you going on the fast track to permanent residency in the United States.

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Cedric M. Shen is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney experienced in helping foreign nationals enter the United States. His law practice focuses on employment-based green...

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