EB-5 is the abbreviation of Employment Based Fifth Preference. The original act was created in 1990 aiming to encourage and attract foreign investors to boost employment opportunities for local residents. In 1992, in order to further attract the foreign investors, USCIS introduced the concept of TEA (Target Employment Area). If the foreign investors invest in the TEA area, the capital investment can be cut down from $1 million to $0.5 million. The EB-5 program requires that the capital must be at risk during the person hold the conditional green card. In 1993, in order to control the investment risk and increase the chance of investment success, USCIS put the regional center (RC) pilot program into practice from October 1, 1993. Once a regional center approved by USCIS, it has the right to gather capital from investors through private equity. The Regional Center will apply the capital into qualified projects which promote employment opportunities.
During the last few years, EB-5 has attracted a large number of high net worth individuals because of its many merits including the low threshold and high benefits. There is a 10,000 visa quota annually, of which nearly 85% are mainland China born applicants. Besides, the number of investors from Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan is increasing dramatically.