EB-5 Program History
The U.S. Immigrant Investor Program, which grants an EB-5 investor visa, was introduced in 1990 and attracted a relatively small number of immigrants. In 1993, the U.S. government modified its 1990 program. It retained the 1990 regulations, but established a Pilot Program under which “regional centers” could be designated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Regional center job-creation requirements are more flexible and “passive” investment opportunities are created (via limited partnerships) for numerous global investors. This was in accordance to a Congressional mandate aimed at stimulating economic activity and job growth, while allowing eligible aliens the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents.
The Pilot Program required only a $500,000 investment in exchange for permanent resident status. The investment could only be received by legally established Regional Centers.
The 1993 Pilot Program was scheduled to expire in 1998, but was extended three times without interruption, most recently to 2012. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Association to Invest in the USA (IIUSA), a trade group, are currently lobbying to make the program permanent.