For entrepreneurs, seeking investment capital from traditional channels may be like pulling teeth. Lenders are very conservative these days, and with good reason. The economic recession has dried up several funds, making it difficult for many developers to start up their long awaited projects. However, economic success overseas has helped many Americans out of this dry spell. The number of foreign investors financing US businesses is growing and becoming more popular than ever.
Since 1990, Congress enacted a program aimed at encouraging foreigners to drop their chunk of change into the American economy. This act created the EB-5 visa, also known as the “Investor’s Visa.”
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Ready-Made Investment Opportunities
While an investor can go through the trouble of learning how to do business in America, you may, through the participation in a “Regional Center” provide an avenue for their capital to meet your business dreams. If the investment pays off with the creation of ten or more new jobs they are able to receive a permanent resident card.
The EB-5 program has helped jumpstart several US business ventures. In 2008 a $88 million hospitality development was built in Seattle. A short while after Los Angeles was able to help alleviate its hotel room shortage with the creation of a similar project. Most recently, Washington state was able to fund the replacement of the world’s largest floating bridge on Lake Washington through a $48 million investment from 96 Chinese investors who purchased state bonds through a Regional Center.
The opportunities that Regional Centers provide are very exciting for those trying to build a large-scale business involving lots of capital for infrastructure. Many proposed renewable energy projects could work but need startup funds to get off the ground. Foreign investors are savvy and may be willing to take a chance on a project others won’t touch.
How Much Does It Cost, Really?
So how much does it cost to attaina green card through the EB-5 Program?The minimum is $500,000 within a rural area or high-unemployment zone, as designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. If an area has not been designated as such the investor can collect data to be presented to the USCIS for a determination to be made.
For investments anywhere else the minimum capital investment is $1 million. Within 90 days of the two year mark, investors can petition USCIS with data proving they have fulfilled the requirements. In the meantime, they would receive temporary authorization to live and work in the US.
What does this mean for American entrepreneurs? For some willing to do some legwork to obtain the capital this can be an important step towards building an eco-friendly empire (or any for that matter). Half a million isn’t anything to trifle with, especially if wisely managed. For communities it could mean a steady growth plan to replace aging energy infrastructure or an opportunity for city-planners to re-imagine what could be possible.
Carol Carter is a writer and immigration policy analyst. She has covered various topics related to immigration following an experience helping a friend become a naturalized citizen. She has used EB5Investors platform to inform colleagues of visa requirements and changes.