Under the EB-5 program, foreigners who invest in job-creating businesses and projects in the United States receive conditional permanent resident status in the United States for a two-year period. After two years, if the immigrants have satisfied the conditions of the EB-5 Program and other criteria of eligibility, the conditions are removed and the immigrants become unconditional lawful permanent residents of the United States. The “Immigrant Investor Pilot Program” allocates EB-5 visas for foreigners investing in regional centers designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). A regional center has jurisdiction over a limited geographic area and serves the purpose of concentrating pooled investment in defined economic zones.
BEA produces comprehensive statistics on foreign investment as part of the U.S. International Economic Accounts. Foreign direct investment in the United States (FDIUS) is defined as the ownership by a non-U.S. resident of 10 percent or more of the voting interest of a U.S. business. Once a foreign investor becomes a U.S. resident (including on a conditional basis), the investment is no longer considered FDIUS.
Data from USCIS for 2014 indicate that 98.9 percent of EB-5 visas issued were through the Regional Center program. The funds invested in the United States through the EB-5 Regional Center program usually do not meet the definition of direct investment because the foreign investors may already be U.S. residents (including on a conditional basis) when they make their investment and because they acquire a limited partner (non-voting) interest in the entities in which they invest.
A small portion of EB-5 investors choose to make their investments directly, without the use of a Regional Center. Any investments in which the foreign investor acquires a 10 percent or more voting interest in a U.S. business enterprise before they become U.S. residents (including on a conditional basis) would be subject to reporting on BEA’s direct investment surveys. The direct investment surveys do not collect information indicating whether investments are associated with the EB-5 program. For more information regarding the specific filing requirements for FDIUS surveys, please visit: www.bea.gov/surveys/fdiusurv.