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U.S. Senate Passes Extension of EB-5 Investor Visa Pilot Program

1188234_24691010.jpgThe United States Senate passed a bill in August extending the EB-5 Regional Center Program (RCP) for an additional three years. The RCP is a special part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, allowing qualified immigrants who invest in a business venture and create jobs in designated regions to obtain an immigrant visa. The RCP has existed for twenty years, and was set to expire on September 30, 2012. The extension still requires the House of Representatives’ approval and the President’s signature.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990. EB-5 is a category of immigrant visa available to investors who meet certain investment and job creation requirements. The immigrant must be able to invest at least $1 million in a “new commercial enterprise,” defined as a for-profit business venture established after November 29, 1990 or, if established earlier, restructured, reorganized, or significantly expanded after that date. The minimum investment amount is lowered to $500,000 if the commercial enterprise is located in a “Targeted Employment Area,” defined as either an area with an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the nationwide average, or a rural area located outside a municipality with a census population of at least 20,000.

An investor must also create a minimum of ten new full-time jobs for U.S. workers in order to qualify for an EB-5 visa. The immigrant investor ordinarily has two years from admission to the U.S. to create the jobs, although that deadline may be modified to allow for reasonable time to develop the business. Qualifying jobs must provide at least thirty-five hours of work per week, and must be available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or immigrants with work authorization. An investor may also preserve jobs, rather than creating new jobs, if the jobs are in a “troubled business” as defined by statute.

Congress created the RCP, formally known as the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, as a special EB-5 program in 1992. It has extended the program several times, up to its current expiration date of September 30. The RCP has most of the same requirements as the main EB-5 program, but it specifically applies to investments in designated “Regional Centers.” These Regional Centers are defined as public or private ventures that encourage economic growth, productivity, job creation, and investment in a defined region. A proposal for a visa through the RCP program must demonstrate how the investment will focus on a defined geographical region, provide details on how the investment will create jobs in that region, and show how investment in the region will improve the region’s (or the nation’s) economy. The RCP expands the job creation element of the EB-5 visa program, allowing both “direct” and “indirect” creation of jobs, such as through job creation due to region-wide economic improvements.

Samuel C. Berger, P.C. helps immigrants seeking visas to work for, or invest in, a New York or New Jersey business, and helps businesses petition for skilled immigrant employees. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today, contact us online or call (212) 380-8117.

More Blog Posts:

Registration for the 2014 Diversity Visa Lottery Program Begins in October, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 23, 2012
Understanding the State Department’s Monthly Visa Bulletin, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2012
New York Company Joins Federal Immigration Compliance Program, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2012
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