In 1990, under section 203(b) (5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. Â§ 1153(b) (5), Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category for qualified foreign investors seeking to invest in a business that benefits the U.S. economy by creating or preserving at least 10 full-time jobs.
The initial amount required for foreigners to invest is $1 million, although that number is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in an area designated as rural or facing high unemployment. Approximately 10,000 green cards are available through the EB-5 program each year.
In 1992, U.S. Congress created the Regional Center Pilot Program in order to promote immigration and investment through EB-5 and further encourage foreign investment in the United States. The Regional Center Pilot Program allows for a portion of allowable annual EB-5 Visas to be set aside for foreigners who apply through a USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) approved Regional Center.
A Regional Center is a private enterprise, corporation or regional governmental agency with a targeted investment program within a defined geographic region. The Regional Center program in many ways mirrors long active and successful investment-employment based programs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other foreign nations.