Serving The Immigration Needs Of The San Diego Area Since 1984

Reforms to investor visas wait for approval by Congress

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2013 | Employment Immigration

Under a pilot program, immigrant investor projects are operating out of regional centers that help private businesses pool investments from potential immigrant investors at $1 million or $500,000 per person. The regional center program is an extension of the 1990 program that encourages foreigners to come to California and other areas nationally to start their own businesses in return for investor visas that could be made permanent. The hook is that if they create 10 jobs in two years, their conditional status can become a green card permanent resident status.

In the Senate immigration reform bill, which the House of Representatives will apparently not even consider except on a piecemeal basis, Senator Patrick Leahy incorporated several reforms to the EB-5 program for investor visas. These included stronger oversight, better reporting and streamlined visa applications. He also added a revision to define a full-time job as possibly being filled with several part-time workers.

The jobs created under the investor visas program can be new, or preserved. They can be direct additions to payroll or indirectly attributed to the investment. They can be in the same area as the regional center, or anywhere else in the country. Currently, all jobs created through EB-5 investments must be full time, or at least 35 hours per week. This is the standard that applies to regional center projects now, but this would be liberalized under the Leahy proposal.

This would be an effective reform, especially in construction employment, which seems to be a large segment of investor opportunities. Construction work is typically done by subcontractors in short spurts. Under the reform, several of these temporary work projects could be added up during different times of the year to equate to one or more workers. Also, multiple people could be employed part-time to be the equivalent of one full-time job creation.

In California and elsewhere, this could also mean more flexibility and opening up investor visas to smaller projects. Small projects are more common in rural communities, thus allowing those areas to benefit from investor capital. For smaller areas or very rural ones with low employment the minimum investment is cut in half to just $500,000.

Source:, “Leahy proposal would alter EB-5 job creation formula,” Hilary Niles, Aug. 9, 2013