2015_eb-5It’s a fairly well known fact that obtaining U.S. residency can be a process rife with difficulty, including considerable expenses and time delays. For foreign investors interested in becoming permanent American residents, one useful route involves making investments in businesses or specific employment areas, and applying for an EB-5 visa.

The EB-5 visa program provides an attractive path to obtaining permanent U.S. residency, as it depends on making a minimum initial investment, maintaining that investment for at least two years and creating at least 10 full-time, permanent jobs. Once these conditions have been successfully satisfied, a permanent green card may be issued. The minimum investments required are $500,000 in targeted employment areas such as the U.S. Virgin Islands as opposed to customary $1 million in other areas. The projects must be approved by one of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 Regional Center Projects which the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority is attempting to establish.

During the two-year period in which the investment is maintained and other conditions are being satisfied, the investor has provisional U.S. residency, with all of the benefits and advantages it provides. This is an attractive alternative to many other paths to residency, as the two-year waiting period is much shorter than most other options.

The benefits that come along with the EB-5 visa include the freedom to travel outside of the country—a useful benefit to many foreign investors—and the ability to lead full lives anywhere in the U.S. There is also the fact that the EB-5 program does not place many of the restrictions on applicants that other programs do. For investors interested in eventually becoming U.S. citizens, the two years of provisional residency also count toward the five years required for full citizenship.

The EB-5 process begins when a Regional Center Project provides necessary documents to an interested investor, who then deposits the required funds into an escrow account prior to filing an I-526 petition with USCIS. Once that petition is approved, the investor files for the appropriate visa. Once that application has also been approved, the investor is granted provisional residency for the two-year period. Prior to the end of this period, the investor must file an I-829 petition for the removal of conditions and the granting of permanent residency.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority has joined with American Regional Center Group to provide services that benefit the organization themselves, as well as potential investors and the overall economic environment in the territory. The promotion of EB-5 investment opportunities is just one aspect of this work. To learn more about the specifics of the EB-5 program and potential opportunities in the U.S. Virgin Islands or the U.S. mainland, contact an experienced business law attorney.

BoltNagi is a widely respected and established corporate and business law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.