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What is an Investment Visa?

Under U.S. immigration law, 10,000 immigrant visas per year are available to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise. These individuals are often called "alien investors." Also referred to as an investment visa, this type of immigration authorization is intended to spur employment through the start-up of new businesses.

Of the 10,000 investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving a "Regional Center" designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

See FindLaw's Visas section for additional articles and resources pertaining to immigration authorization. 

What is a "Regional Center?"

According to the USCIS, 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. The USCIS defines it as follows:  

  • Is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved as such by USCIS;
  • Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States; and ,
  • Seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.

Investment Visa: Eligibility

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

  • Demonstrate that a "qualified investment" is being made in a new commercial enterprise located within an approved Regional Center; and,
  • Show, using reasonable methodologies, that 10 or more jobs are actually created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise through revenues generated from increased exports, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment resulting from the pilot program.

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

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Next Steps

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

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