If you are looking to take advantage of the Immigrant Investor Program, it helps to start by knowing its history. The United States was not the first industrialized nation to offer a program like this. In fact, it was included in the Immigration Act of 1990 because it had proven to be successful in other countries, and the U.S. used the best features of their models to construct its own. The idea was to stimulate economic activity and create more jobs for the American people as a whole by offering permanent residency and an opportunity for citizenship to foreign investors in American commercial enterprises.
The program was not fully operational until 1992, at which point the first wave of applicants was able to gain approval. In 1993, the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was initiated by the United States Congress to help stimulate interest in the program. From there, the EB5 visa opportunity began to attract attention, growing more and more popular every year.
Program Changes Throughout the 1990s
The pilot program initiative was just the first of the tweaks Congress would approve over the years. There were in fact several program overhauls throughout the 1990s that would help bring the program to life by examining each part of its operating process and tweaking it for greater effectiveness according to the U.S. Congress’s goals in initiating the program. Those changes included:
- Changing EB-5 requirements to discourage investment fraud
- Requiring applicants to have personal involvement in the ventures they invest in
- Prohibiting investment return guarantees
- Extra verification steps to ensure funding comes from legal sources
These changes are still binding today in many ways. Some of the requirements have been revised again over the years, but always in the direction of more accurate information-gathering and verification.
Program Changes After the Turn of the Century
The 2000s saw the creation of the regional centers through the establishment of the Investor and Regional Center Unit in 2005. This was part of an initiative started by a 2003 revision to the program that was designed to encourage greater participation. At the time, only a fraction of the 10,000 visas the program quota allowed for were being granted each year.
The EB-5 Investor Pilot Program has been reauthorized several times since its last major revision. Extensions in 2009, 2012, and 2015 all proved to have large bipartisan support, which demonstrates how successful the program has been for the U.S.
Putting It All Together
The EB5 visa program is likely to continue well into the future because it has proven to be successful over the years, with over 300 regional centers now operating, allowing the program to maximize its visa quota. If you are interested in pursuing opportunities for U.S. residency through investment, you need to start by working with people who can put you in touch with U.S. regional centers, provide you with information about investment in different states, and otherwise guide your application process. It’s important to have that kind of support as you navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration process, especially if you are looking to make a solid return on your money while establishing your residency. That’s why we put together this guide to everything you need to know about EB-5 program changes over its history.