U.S. Raises Minimum Investment On EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa; Updates International Entrepreneur Rule

The previous United States Government raised the minimum investment for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa to $1.35 million from $500,000. The United States has upped the limit to only attract serious investors and deter abusers of this visa. The minimum investment amount for high employment areas will now be $1.8 million from the previous $1 million.

The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) states, under the EB-5 or the Golden Visa Program entrepreneurs, their spouse and their children under 21 years of age, can apply for a Green Card/ Permanent Residency in the United States if:

  1. The investor invests in a commercial enterprise in the U.S.
  2. The investor plans to create/ preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

The U.S. Government created the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in the 1990 to revive the economy. Very few updates have been made since then. The U.S. government said applicants for EB-5 visas has been on the rise since 2008. The USCIS received close to 18,000 applications for EB-5 in 2016 alone, with 85% of them coming from China. The new rules will ensure EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program will add jobs and pump money into the U.S. economy, in exchange for a Green Card.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also announced a new International Entrepreneur Rule for start-up founders who want to set up companies in the U.S. Under this rule, the DHS can use its parole regulations on a case-by-case basis to grant entry into the U.S. for start-ups who can prove to boost business growth, job creation and provide substantial public health benefit to the U.S. The capital investment has to be high and the entrepreneur(s) must show records of successful funding from other investments, Federal/ State/ local grants.

If such an entrepreneur is granted parole, he/she can stay in the U.S. up to two-and-a-half years, to make the start-up a success with higher returns and jobs. The spouse of the entrepreneur can apply for work authorization but not their children. As per the USCIS, an applicant would need to demonstrate that he or she meets the following criteria to be considered under this rule:

  • The applicant possesses a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity created within the past five years in the United States that has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
  • The applicant has a central and active role in the start-up entity such that the applicant is well-positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business.
  • The applicant can prove that his/her stay will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on the applicant’s role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by:
  • Showing that the start-up entity has received a significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
  • Showing that the start-up entity has received significant awards or grants for economic development, research and development, or job creation (or other types of grants or awards typically given to start-up entities) from federal, state or local government entities that regularly provide such awards or grants to start-up entities; or
  • Showing that they partially meet either or both of the previous two requirements and providing additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

DHS predicts close to 3000 entrepreneurs will be eligible under the International Entrepreneur Rule, annually.