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What Is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program? Three quick tips on ensuring a successful investment journey.

By Shai Zamanian Edited by Michael Dolan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As capital markets continue to expand in places like the Middle East, China, and India, so does the appetite for investors to seek access to the United States. Many families are now keen to invest the government-mandated amounts and participate in investment for immigration purposes. There has been a surge of interest from families looking to participate in "golden visa" or investment for immigration purposes for the future benefit of their children. The program that allows you to gain access to the United States through investment is called the EB-5 Program. The U.S. Congress instituted this program over 30 years ago, hoping that foreign investors would infuse the U.S. economy with fresh capital and be rewarded with Green Cards and permanent residency. In guiding many families through the labyrinth of choosing the right investment option and navigating the government filing application process, we notice that investors sometimes are unaware of the questions they should be asking while undertaking this process. While the program undoubtedly has a number of great benefits, prospective investors must be aware of how they can make their EB-5 journey a successful one:

Related: 7 Tips For Businesses Looking for EB-5 Funding

Investing in the right project

The main requirement for investors is a minimum investment of $900,000 into a U.S.-approved commercial enterprise, and the investment must create 10 jobs for U.S. persons. The investor must ensure that they invest their funds into a project that will meet the program's requirements as set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. While the reason for the investment into the EB-5 immigrant investor program may be greatly driven by the need to obtain U.S. residency and green card, it is still an investment in principle. This means that if the investor makes the right investment decision, they will get their investment back after the 5-year immigration cycle.

To make the right investment, an investor must look to several factors, including the capital structure of the project, the chances of its success, the number of jobs created, and whether the appropriate "TEA certifications" are in place to qualify for the minimum $900,000 investment threshold. These documents can be reviewed and confirmed with an experienced advisor or consultant experienced in reviewing many EB-5 projects.

Credible sources

There is a great deal of information out there regarding the EB-5 program. Just as investors who invest in the stock market would study the changes and happenings of the market, as well as the various company projections before investing. A similar amount of energy is required when investors are conducting their due diligence for the EB-5 process. For example, from what we have observed, the sources coming from U.S.-based sources such as the Washington Post are many times much more credible than sources coming out of India, where many times false information is published. The ability to check and verify the information obtained with an experienced consultant will save the investor from making terrible decisions.

Related: The Case That Could Change the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Consult a credible EB-5 specialist

An EB-5 consultant is meant to be a liaison between the client, immigration attorney and regional center. Their role is to ensure that the investors' interests are protected and that their application is filed correctly and on time. While the consultant cannot advise the investor on which project to invest in, they can align the investor with credible regional centers and immigration attorneys. The EB-5 consultant then becomes an advocate for the investor. Please note that most EB-5 applications are coming from China. An application from your prospective country would look much different than those from other countries. Thus it would be prudent to work with a team specializing in filing applications from your respective market.

Related: 3 Green Card Alternatives to the EB-5 Program for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Shai Zamanian

Managing Director at The American Legal Center

Shai Zamanian, a U.S. licensed lawyer and founder and director of the American Legal Center, assists families in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region migrate to the United States through investment immigration programs.

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