What is the EB-5 visa with professional advice from Immigration Expert Martin Lawler

The EB-5 visa stands for employment based fifth preference category, also known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program. The EB-5 Visa program was created in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment. Established to, “create jobs for U.S. workers and to infuse new capital into the U.S. economy,” The EB-5 visa essentially makes it possible for eligible immigrant investors to become legal residents of the United States of America by investing at least $500,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers. Martin Lawler, a San Francisco based immigration attorney and EB-5 immigration expert, explains that the minimum investment amount is $500,000 but will “soon be $800,000 in some areas.” The EB-5 is administered under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department which states that, “Potential investors are encouraged to seek professional advice when making any investment decisions.”


Who is eligible

International entrepreneurs, their spouses, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 years are eligible to apply for a green card establishing permanent residence in the US if they meet the following criteria, as stated on the uscis.gov website.

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

What To Invest in

Investments for EB-5 visa requirements can be done either in a new commercial enterprise or they can be made to a regional center. Regional centers are federally approved entities that connect foreign investors with developers in need of funding, and take a commission. A list of the current approved regional centers can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers

If the EB-5 investor is interested in creating a new commercial enterprise the following requirements must be observed:

As found on the uscis.gov website:

“All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:

  • Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
  • Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
    Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
    2. Expanded through the investment so that at least a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs

Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:

  • A sole proprietorship
  • Partnership (whether limited or general)
  • Holding company
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust, or
  • Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.

This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.

Note: This definition does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.”

Job Creation

If the new commercial enterprise is not located within a regional center than the 10 full time positions must be  created directly by the new commercial enterprise. “This means that the new commercial enterprise (or its ​wholly owned​ subsidiaries) must itself be the employer of the qualifying employees​.​​”


Application Advice from Martin Lawler

The easiest way to ensure a successful application for a EB-5 visa is through an established legal counsel who can walk you through the process and help ensure a smooth application. Martin Lawler of Lawler & Lawler has one of the most up to date websites on the subject and has over 30 years specializing in immigration law.  Background detail on the application process can be found here at USCIS. gov

Martin Lawler has a team of EB-5 expert lawyers and paralegals who assist him with investor green card cases. Together they have filed about 400 regional center EB-5 investor petitions (I-526s) for green cards, about 150 removal of conditional residence petitions (I-829s), and about 40 direct investor cases (for individuals creating own businesses).


Martin has also assisted in setting up, and represents, many regional centers throughout the U.S. and is currently working on about six more.

Martin’s EB-5 staff is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and Japanese. They often call clients in China and correspond via email in Chinese. Martin’s EB-5 group is very experienced in documenting the source and path of funds for proving EB-5 green card cases. Martin has been to China 11 times, and has visited Korea and Vietnam to give presentations and talks on immigration via the EB-5 program.