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Green cards and the EB-5 program

A green card is a highly coveted document that can allow non-citizens to live and work in the United States permanently. As a result, many people hoping to live in New York would love to get their hands one.

However, there is only a limited supply of green cards available each year, approximately 50,000 for qualified immigration applicants. With millions of people from all around the world hoping to win one in the lottery, demand is obviously very high.

However, wealthy people have an advantage that others do not. They can speed up the typically years' long wait if they are willing to pay a price into a special 22-year-old federal program called EB-5. The investment required can be at minimum anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the area of investment.

Under the EB-5 program, foreign investors can obtain U.S. residency by investing in a new or growing company. This would seem like a win-win situation, both for foreign investors and for businesses seeking capital in this down economy. In fact, the number of foreign investors applying for the EB-5 program has quadrupled in the previous three years.

In order to qualify, the investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs within two years of the investment. If this is the outcome, then after the two years, the investor is eligible to apply for a green card, which has a very high success rate. In the meantime, once the investment is made and the government has approved of the project, then the investor is eligible for temporary residency for themselves and their family. If the investment fails to meet the job creation requirement in the two-year period, then they will not obtain green cards.

Consultants and brokers work to match foreign investors with promising investments in U.S. companies that will meet the requirements of the EB-5 program, while at the same time offer the hopes of breaking even, or maybe even making a profit.

Source: INDYSTAR.com, "The China Letter: Foreign investment can fast track U.S. residency," John Russell, Dec. 15, 2012

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