A US green card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, allows non-US citizens to live and work legally in the United States permanently.

Holders of this card have rights similar to US citizens, including access to employment, education, and health care, but they cannot vote in federal elections and are subject to different tax rules.

Green cards can be obtained through various means and one of the more financially demanding methods is getting a green card through investment in real estate. The card is a crucial step for foreign investors toward eventual US citizenship if the holder decides to naturalize.

In this article, we’ll explain which program you’ll need to apply for, how you can get it, and what the requirements are for a successful application.

What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?

eb-5 visa lawyer green card through real estate green card through real estate investment regional center major real estate developments direct investment commercial space us real estate market permanent resident status investment funds regional center project foreign investor commercial enterprise requirement reduced investment investment project business operates promoting economic growth immigrant petition green card through real estate rural projects attracting capital job creation requirement obtaining permanent residency federal regulations generate income commercial enterprises investor visa actual money application process us business at risk immigrant investors direct path alien entrepreneur partial owner creating jobs invest directly legal means visa requirements home country eb 5 program lawful activities minimum amount limited number noncommercial activity uscis requirements investing in real estate specific requirements specific amount remove conditions states citizenship and immigration creation of 10 full jobs u.s workers 10 jobs create jobsThe EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a US government initiative that allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency (a green card) by investing in the American economy.

Established by Congress in 1990, this program aims to stimulate economic growth through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Here are the key components of the EB-5 program:

Investment Amount: Investors are required to make a minimum capital investment of $1.05 million in a new commercial enterprise. However, the minimum investment drops to $800,000 if the investment is made in a targeted employment area (TEA), which includes rural areas or regional centers with high unemployment rates.

Job Creation: The investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers within two years of the investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.

Commercial Enterprise: The investment must be in a new commercial enterprise, which includes any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business. This can include starting a new business or purchasing an existing business and reorganizing it in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results.

It also includes expanding an existing business enterprise by 140% of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth or retaining all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20% of its net worth in the past 12 to 24 months.

Management Role: Investors must be involved in managing the new enterprise, either through day-to-day managerial control or as policy formulators. Simply being a passive investor does not qualify.

The EB-5 program allows investors, their spouses, and unmarried children under 21 to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.

It’s important to note that investing in property alone, such as buying a home or commercial real estate, does not qualify for the EB-5 visa unless this investment is tied to a new commercial enterprise that meets the job creation requirements.

What real estate can you invest in?

house costing in canada immigration lawyer buying a house real estate investment real estate investors business plan investing in real estate us visa immigration attorneys regional centers commercial property investing capital immigrant visa local market real estate business passive investment buy property regional center real estate investment 10 full time jobs regional centerAccording to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program saw significant changes with the passing of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and signed into law that same year.

The legislation reauthorized the EB-5 Regional Center Program through 30 September 2027 and introduced several important changes aimed at enhancing its integrity, oversight, and stability.

One of the changes included regulations on where you can invest in real estate to get a green card. The legislation allocates a specific number of EB-5 visas for investments in rural and high-unemployment areas, currently pegged at 20%.

This change aims to direct real estate investments into areas that may benefit most from economic development and job creation.

A significant criterion is that the investment isn’t made within the boundaries of a town of more than 20,000 residents.

However, many investors choose urban regional centers where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Projects often include real estate developments like mixed-use buildings, residential complexes, and commercial spaces such as hotels or office buildings.

But there is a disadvantage to that over traditional real estate investment. When someone invests in the real estate market that is part of the earmarked 20%, they can potentially get a green card in under 12 months.

However, when investments are made within a town’s boundary or regional center, the waiting times can be much longer.

Read our US Citizenship by Investment Guide

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Ways to Obtain Permanent Residency

Obtaining a US green card can be achieved through several different pathways, each catering to specific circumstances. Each of these pathways has specific criteria and processes, often requiring extensive documentation and legal proceedings. Here are the primary methods:

Family-Based Immigration: US citizens and those who have lawful permanent residence can sponsor certain family members for a green card. This includes spouses, children, parents, and siblings (for US citizens only).

Employment-Based Immigration: Green cards can be issued to individuals based on their employment situation. This includes professionals with advanced degrees, skilled workers, special ability workers (like artists, athletes, and business executives), and investors who meet the criteria of the EB-5 program.

Refugee or Asylee Status: Individuals granted asylum or refugee status can apply for a green card one year after their admission to the US as a refugee or one year after receiving asylum.

Diversity Lottery: The Diversity Immigrant Visa program awards up to 50,000 immigrant visas annually, drawn from random selection among entries to individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. This visa provides foreign nationals with a lawful permanent residence in less than two years, which can lead to United States citizenship.

Special Categories of Jobs: Some individuals may get a green card through special categories of jobs, such as Afghan/Iraqi translator, international broadcaster, religious worker, or employee of an international organization.

Registry Provisions: Individuals who have been continuously present in the US since 1 January 1972 may be eligible to apply for a green card regardless of their current immigration status.

Victims of Abuse: This includes individuals abused by a US citizen or permanent resident spouse, or the child abused by a US citizen or permanent resident parent. Certain victims of human trafficking and crimes may also apply for a green card.

Special Immigrant Juveniles: Children who are unable to reunite with a parent due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect may be eligible for a green card.

How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments. 

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application. 

Frequently Asked Questions About a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate

What is the minimum investment required for an EB-5 visa?

The minimum investment amount required for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program is $1.05 million.

However, if the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which can either be a rural area or a regional center with high unemployment, the minimum investment requirement is reduced to $800,000.

What are the job creation requirements for the EB-5 visa?

An EB-5 investment requires the creation of jobs for at least ten qualifying US workers within two years of the investor being admitted to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident. This job creation is a key requirement for the EB-5 program, and it is essential for the investor to fulfill this obligation to maintain their status.

Can money gifted by a family member be used as an investment for the EB-5 visa?

Yes, gifted funds can be used for an EB-5 investment as long as the investor can prove that the funds were gifted legally and that the source of the funds meets legal requirements. Documentation proving the lawful source of the gifted funds must be provided.

How long does it take to get a Green Card through the EB-5 visa?

The processing time for an EB-5 visa can vary widely depending on several factors, including the applicant’s country of origin and current USCIS processing times. Generally, it may take anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 years or more to obtain a Green Card through the EB-5 visa program.

Can EB-5 investors bring their families?

Yes, the EB-5 visa allows the investor, their spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to apply for a Green Card as derivative beneficiaries of the principal applicant’s investment and application.

How can I obtain a U.S. Green Card?

There are several ways to obtain a Green Card, including through family sponsorship, employment, as a refugee or asylee, the Diversity Visa Lottery, and the EB-5 investor program. Each category has specific eligibility requirements and procedures.

How long does it take to get a Green Card?

The processing time for a Green Card varies widely depending on the basis of the application, the applicant’s country of origin, and the current workload of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

It can range from a few months for immediate relatives of US citizens to several years for some family preference and employment-based categories.

Can I work in the US with a Green Card?

Yes, Green Card holders are lawful permanent residents who have the right to work in the United States without needing an employment authorization document. They can work for any employer and are not restricted to a specific job or employer.

What are the responsibilities of a Green Card holder?

Green Card holders must obey all federal, state, and local laws, file US income tax returns, support the democratic form of government, and cannot vote in federal elections. Men aged 18-25 are also required to register with the Selective Service.

Can a Green Card be revoked?

Yes, a Green Card can be revoked under certain circumstances. These include committing serious crimes, failing to advise USCIS of changes in address, becoming a public charge within the first five years after entry, or spending extended periods of time outside the US without notifying USCIS.

Moreover, certain acts may make the individual removable from the US under immigration law.

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