Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli and Pratt P.A.

EB-5 Visa: Proposed Changes Would Lower Cost in Florida

While the United States economy continues to sputter, the national policy debate over how to create jobs has focused largely on the hiring practices of existing firms. Start-up companies account for a large number of the new jobs that are created each year in the country. Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a new company than non-immigrants, according to the Small Business Administration.

Florida employment immigration lawyers know that Congress created a program in 1990 to attract foreign investment and job creation in the U.S. The EB-5 visa program allows immigrants a vehicle to obtain a green card through investment and job creation. Under the program, a foreign national who invests at least $500,000 and creates at least 10 jobs can obtain a visa. Now there is a push to modify the requirements of the EB-5 visa to stimulate job growth.

The "Wall Street Journal" reports the average new business is created with roughly $31,000 in capital, a far cry from the $500,000 required under the EB-5 visa. The capital required to start many businesses is higher than the overall average. In the retail sector start-up costs average $98,000. For a manufacturer, the average new business spends $175,000 to open its doors.

In 2009, the U.S. issued less than 3,700 EB-5 visas. Included among those visas, are visas issued to the spouses and children of immigrant entrepreneurs.

Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy says the U.S. should discard the capital requirements altogether and focus on job creation. He writes in a recent paper that immigration reform should allow a foreign national to obtain a temporary visa if the entrepreneur provides the Small Business Administration with a business plan that survives scrutiny. The immigrant should be able to obtain a green card if the business actually creates jobs in a specified time-frame.

A bill reportedly was recently introduced in the Senate that would reduce the capital requirement for an EB-5 visa to $250,000. The money could come from a venture capitalist under the measure. The foreign national would receive permanent residence if the new business creates at least 5 new jobs or has revenues of at least $1 million after one-year in operation.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "A Visa for Job Creators," 11 Oct 2010

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