EB-5 Investor Visa

Changes to the EB-5 Investor Visa in 2017

The US EB-5 investor visa is one of the lowest cost residency to citizenship programs on the planet. Yes, you heard me right… you can buy US citizenship for a fraction of the cost of other top countries. Here’s how the EB-5 investor visa is going to change in 2017 and why it will still be a great bargain.

As of today, March 25, 2017, you can get US residency by starting a business in the United States with a $1 million investment and employing 10 people. If you set up that business ins a “distressed” area, your investment goes down to $500,000.

Compare that to Austria. The government of Austria will grant you citizenship with an investment of EUR 3 to 10 million in a business which will employ a “substantial number of people.” The investment amount is negotiated on a case by case basis. Most end up investing about EUR 5 million… 5 times more than the United States.

For reference, Australia, the UK, and Canada also have comparable investment programs at $1 million to $5 million. Malta is about $1.2 million, but it’s a very different offer. For more on this EU passport, see: Second Passport from Malta

Here’s how the US EB-5 investor visa works. You setup your own business which will employ 10 people, or invest in someone else’s business which will employ that number.  Many very large projects, including hotels, resorts, call centers, etc. qualify for EB-5 status. Really, any for profit business that needs a lot of employees is a good EB-5 investor visa opportunity.

Once that business is up and running, you apply for your EB-5 investor visa. This gets you and your family (spouse and dependent children) into the United States. You enter on a residency visa and receive your green card shortly thereafter.

So long as the business is active, and employees at least 10 people, you will maintain this residency. After 5 years of residency, you can apply for citizenship.

Those using the EB-5 investor visa are guaranteed citizenship at the end of 5 years of residency. There are no quotas or limits… stick to the terms of your agreement and you and your family will receive US passport(s).

The US EB-5 program is the most popular residency program in the world. It’s raised at least $8.7 billion and created 35,150 jobs since 2012. The program issues a maximum of 10,000 green cards a year and 90% of the applications come from China.

That’s the US investor visa today. Here’s how the EB-5 investor visa is likely to change in 2017.

Expect the $500,000 distressed option to go up to $1.35 million. Bottom line, this program was supposed to help poor areas with high unemployment. In practice, all the cash went to fancy hotels and resorts. Thus, the investment amount is going up, way up.

For those starting businesses that are not in designated low income areas, the minimum investment is going from $1 million to $1.8 million.

When might these changes come into effect? The EB-5 investor visa program is up for renewal on April 28, 2017. I expect changes to the program shortly thereafter.

Two items of note:

First, remember you must keep your business going throughout your residency period. Once you have your passport, you can shut it down. This means you must keep 10 employees working for 5 to 6 years. If the business makes a profit, great – you can take out your earnings. If you lose money, you’ll need to invest more to reach break-even or profitability.

I can’t see starting a business that will employee 10 people from day one with less than $2 million. The original investment amount was set in 1990, when $500,000 to $1 million was real money. Today, it would be difficult to reach ramen profitability with that capital and 10 employees.

Second, the investment requirement is NOT the highest cost associated with the EB-5 investor visa for a high net worth person. The real cost is in taxes, taxes and taxes.

Only the United States taxes its citizens and green card holders on their worldwide income. Once you have that residency visa, you’ll pay US taxes on 100% of your income, no matter where you live and no matter where it’s earned.

None of the other countries mentioned here, such as the UK, Austria, Australia, and Malta, tax nonresidents on income earned abroad. You only pay tax in Austria if you are living in Austria. Get your passport and live elsewhere and you pay zero.

So, someone living abroad might be paying zero tax on $3 million a year in business income with an Austrian passport. If they sign up for the US EB-5 investor visa, they’ll pay 35% to the United States, plus another 10% to their state. This means you’re paying $1,350,000 in taxes on $3 million of income each and every year for the right to a US passport.

There is one way to get your US passport and cut your tax rate from 40% to 4% on business income and 0% on capital gains. Set up in the US territory of Puerto Rico. For more on this topic, see:

Coming to America Tax Free with the EB-5 Visa and Puerto Rico

Where to start an EB-5 business

I hope you’ve found this article on the United States EB-5 investor visa helpful. For more information on this, or setting up a business in Puerto Rico, please contact us at info@premieroffshore.com or call us at (619) 483-1708. 

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