The Sun Sentinel reports that South Florida restaurants are increasingly financing expansion through the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5 visa program offers U.S. visas to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 (up to one million dollars) in an American business and create at least 10 full-time jobs. In the current tough economy, the visa program is providing much needed cash to businesses seeking capital. For example, one restaurant chain was able to finance four new locations in South Florida with money from EB-5 investors. The investors, who came from China, Canada and other countries, were able to obtain visas in about one year.
The EB-5 visa program can be a win-win proposition for foreigners wanting to come to the United States and American businesses. This is perhaps why the program is growing in popularity. In 2012, the government approved 3,677 EB-5 investor visas, up from about 1,500 in 2011.
There are three types of investments that allow you to obtain an EB-5 visa. You can qualify for an EB-5 visa by investing in a:
- New commercial enterprise — a for-profit business established or restructured after 1990
- Troubled business — an enterprise that has existed for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the previous year or two years
- Regional center pilot program — a public or private business designated as a regional center by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
As with any investment, participating in the EB-5 visa program requires a thorough evaluation of the risks and possible benefits. In my work with EB-5 investors, I have carefully reviewed each client’s unique situation. While the EB-5 visa has certain attractive features, other types of investment visas are also available. A Florida immigration lawyer with extensive experience handling investment visas can recommend the best option for you.