For the Hands-On Investor: An Overview of EB-5 Direct Investment

Direct Investment is one of two ways to pursue a Green Card through the EB-5 program. When we use the term “Direct Investment,” we are referring to an EB-5 investment in a unique business established and operated by the investor, rather than an investment in a USCIS approved Regional Center. 

A Direct Investment EB-5 requires a $1.05 million or $800,000 investment in some form of new or restructured business. Because of the complexity of Direct Investment EB-5, the vast majority of EB-5 applicants invest in a Regional Center rather than making a Direct Investment, but there are investors for whom the Direct Investment option makes the most sense—and you might be one of them.

If you’re an investor who requires business operational control, the Direct Investment option may be the best option for you. You can invest in virtually any type of business. Often, people select the Direct Investment option precisely because they wish to invest in a particular industry with which they are familiar, and because they are committed to exercise business operational control. A Direct Investment EB-5 will allow you to manage the business as you wish. In fact, you would be required to take an active role in managing the business in which you place your investment.

There are two main phases to the application process, which occur roughly two years apart. In the first phase, you must prove to USCIS that you have established a business entity and made a qualifying investment. Whether you must invest $1.05 million or $800,000 will depend on where the business is located. An $800,000 investment will suffice if the business is located in a rural area or one with high unemployment. You must also invest in a business that was created after 1990, unless you significantly expand it or change what it does.

A critical part of this first application is preparing a comprehensive business plan, with the help of an attorney and business plan professional. Your business plan will set forth extensive details as to the nature of your business, as well as information about the business’ personnel needs, which provide evidence that the business will eventually meet USCIS’s requirement for job creation. If your first application is successful, you will be issued a temporary Conditional Green Card, as will the members of your immediate family whom you listed on the application.

In the second phase, which begins about two years after you have received your Conditional Green Card, you must prove to USCIS that your investment has indeed helped created enough jobs, or that it will do so soon. In most cases, your investment must have led to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for new employees. However, if you invest in a business that is struggling, this can include the jobs for current employees that your investment helped save. If you are successful in this second application, you and your family will receive what we refer to as Permanent Resident Green Cards. These are fully renewable every 10 years and are no longer dependent on the success of your EB-5 business.

In our Article Library you will find a number of articles on Direct Investment. However, if you would like a more comprehensive understanding of Direct Investment EB-5, I highly recommend you order a free copy of our book Complete Guide to the EB-5 Green Card