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What is an Investment Visa?

The U.S. government annually offers 10,000 investment immigrant visas to qualified people. To qualify, a person must seek permanent resident status based on involvement in a new commercial enterprise. Many call this an "investment visa." This type of immigration authorization aims to spur employment and the creation of startups.

There are 5,000 investment visas set aside for the "Regional Center Program." This is a pilot program conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

See FindLaw's Visas section for more articles and resources about immigration authorization.

EB-5 Program

USCIS issues investment visas as part of the EB-5 investor program. In some ways, an EB-5 visa is like an employment-based visa. Holders of investment visas are legally authorized to start and run U.S. businesses.

Noncitizens granted an EB-5 visa also get green cards authorizing them to work in the United States. As a green card holder, you can remain in the U.S. for a significant amount of time as a "documented person."

EB-5 visas also come with other benefits, such as allowing spouses and unmarried children to live and work in the U.S.

Getting an EB-5 visa doesn't automatically speed up naturalization. It also doesn't necessarily speed up gaining United States Citizenship. But it gives someone a legal path to work in the United States.

The visa investment program has become one of the more popular visa programs in the U.S. for those seeking a long-term presence here.

What is a 'Regional Center?'

A Regional Center is a private or public entity involved in economic growth and job creation. For example, it could be a mixed-use real estate project focused on dense housing, retail shops, and office units.

Regional Centers must:

  • Be approved by USCIS for the EB-5 program
  • Focus on a specific geographic area within the United States

They also promote economic growth through:

  • Increased export sales
  • Improved regional productivity
  • Creation of new jobs
  • Increased domestic capital investment

EB-5 Investors

Foreign nationals who would like to apply for permanent residency as investors must do the following:

  • Show that a "qualified investment" is being made in a new commercial enterprise
  • The commercial enterprise must be located within an approved Regional Center
  • Show that 10 or more jobs are created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise
  • The enterprise must generate revenues from increased exports or improved regional productivity
  • It may also generate revenues through job creation or increased domestic capital investments
  • The investments must result from the pilot program

You must complete an I-526 petition with USCIS to apply for an investor visa.

The issuance of investment visas results in a person qualifying as a conditional resident. After two years from the date of issuance of a conditional green card, a person must apply to remove these conditions. With removal of these conditions, a person may become a permanent resident with no conditions. A person may file Form I-829 to remove the conditions on the green card. This petition is titled the “Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status." If these petitions are granted, it will result in the removal of conditions to permanent status.

Talk to a business immigration attorney if you have more questions about the investment visa or other types of visas.


The U.S. Department of State sets out several criteria for qualifying investments. For investment visas, a person must meet certain commercially oriented requirements. Conditional on the issuance of these visas is the satisfaction of these requirements. Maintenance of the good status of your visa is also conditional upon satisfaction of these requirements. According to the U.S. Department of State, a person must invest a minimum of $1 million in a commercial enterprise.

But a foreign national must do so without borrowing any money. A foreign national may also invest $500,000 in high-unemployment areas. High unemployment areas are those with unemployment rates of 150% of the national average of joblessness. A person may also invest this amount in commercial enterprises within rural areas. They may also invest in any targeted employment areas. Be mindful that the investment must be in the amounts specified, in the areas required, and without entailing a loan.

The investment amounts mentioned above are considered EB-5 investments. They are often perfect for entrepreneurs, while they are also purposed for foreign investors. They are also part of a long-standing U.S. government initiative to create immigrant investor programs.

Other requirements include the investment creating full-time jobs for at least 10 U.S. citizens. But this must occur within two years. Creating jobs for at least 10 lawful permanent residents will also meet the requirement. Creating this number of jobs for migrant workers authorized to work in the United States is another way to meet the requirement.

The investment visa applicant's family members are excluded from the list of qualifying workers. It's important to understand the requirements around what kinds of jobs need to be created as a condition of your visa. This is an essential part of any investment visa. Be aware of the requirements of the creation of jobs for U.S. workers. Also, be aware of the required investment amounts. You must also submit an organized business plan to the State Department. It must detail the nature of all your direct investments.

You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own — Get a Lawyer's Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your eligibility and how to protect your rights best. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help. If you're considering an investment visa, it's always wise to consult with an immigration lawyer. They can help with all aspects of immigration processes. This is another type of U.S. visa that provides the many benefits of long-term presence in the United States. Immigration law doesn't need to be as confusing as it can be without an attorney's help. Any visa application process is often made easier with a lawyer's help. Contact a lawyer today.

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Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you with visa procedures.

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