How EB-5 Compares To World Immigration Programs

WRITTEN BY

EB-5 Insider Team

A group of professionals with years of experience helping people immigrate to the US

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal advice or selling securities. The articles and content on this site are of a general informational nature only and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

Immigration is a time-consuming process, especially if you’re looking to acquire citizenship from another country. Residency by investment, known as ‘golden visas’, allows high net-worth individuals to streamline the immigration process by making a necessary investment. It can drastically reduce the immigration timeframe and provide you with permanent residency and a path to citizenship.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is one of the most popular programs. The rise in ‘global citizenship’ has allowed investors to live, work, and travel freely to other countries by acquiring permanent residency through investment. Many countries, including EU states, have introduced investor programs following the success of the EB-5 investor program.

The minimum investment amount and residency rights will vary from country to country. While the United States remains the most sought-after investment immigration program, there are other golden visa programs you might be considering.

We’re comparing the EB-5 visa for foreign investors in the United States with other investment immigration programs internationally.

What is the EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was launched in 1990 to help boost the domestic economy by using international investment to drive job creation. The EB-5 visa allows entrepreneurs and wealthy individuals to acquire permanent U.S. residency through investment.

An EB-5 visa allows an investor, their spouse, and qualifying dependents to live, work, and travel freely through the United States. You may be able to recover your initial investment of either $800,000 or $1,050,000 and can use it as a stepping stone to acquire U.S. citizenship. You’ll be required to reside within the USA for at least half the year. Most EB-5 investors can expect to receive their permanent residency within 26 months.

Concurrent filing has made EB-5 visas even more appealing for potential investors who are already residing in the United States on non-immigrant visas. Recent reforms under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 mean that the processing time has drastically reduced for investors who qualify for concurrent filing.

Requirements for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

  • $1,050,00 investment in a qualifying commercial enterprise OR $800,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). This investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying workers within 2 years.

Benefits of the EB-5 Immigration Investment Visa

The United States remains one of the most desirable places to live, with the American Dream drawing in over 50 million international visitors annually. The EB-5 visa comes with a myriad of benefits, including the ability to live, work, and travel freely through the United States.

An EB-5 visa is one of the most efficient ways of gaining a green card, and the program allows investors to also apply for their spouse and qualifying dependents. They are not required to invest but must submit their own paperwork.

Green card holders can access top-tier schools and world-renowned universities on the same basis as U.S. citizens. This program has no specific language proficiency requirement with flexible physical presence requirements. Permanent residents can live anywhere in the United States but have some limitations on their visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel.

Through the EB-5 program, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of legal residency. To be eligible, applicants must have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years immediately before filing. They must also be able to write, speak, and read basic English and complete a civics test.

What Immigration Investment Programs Are Offered Outside the USA?

Although the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is considered one of the leading residence investment programs, there are similar initiatives offered by other countries. You’ll want to consider the requirements and benefits of each program individually. These initiatives allow high-net-worth individuals to relocate to more favorable jurisdictions and enjoy similar rights to domestic residents, including to work, study, and receive healthcare.

We’re sharing 9 immigration investment programs comparable to the EB-5 visa offered in the United States.

1. Cyprus

Cyprus offers a residency by investment program that requires foreign investors to invest at least €300,000 – the equivalent of $325,000 – into residential property or a registered company in Cyprus. Alternatively, the same amount can be used to purchase investment opportunities from the Cyprus Investment Funds Association.

Foreign investors must be able to show that they have an income of over €50,000 from a source outside of Cyprus. The purpose of this program is to attract individuals who are financially independent and will not rely on work in Cyprus. It’s one of the most relaxed residency-by-investment programs, as investors only have to spend time in the country at least once every two years.

2. Italy

Italy’s residency-by-investment program requires one of the largest investments on this list. Foreign nationals are required to obtain €2 million in government bonds, the equivalent of $2.15 million. Alternatively, they can invest €500,000 in shares in Italy or make a non-refundable donation of at least €1 million to public interest projects.

Similarly to the EB-5 visa, this program will give you two years of residency. However, you’ll need to continue to maintain your investment to extend your visa for an additional three years. You may be eventually able to apply for Italian citizenship later.

Although you do not need to reside permanently in Italy, once your application is approved, you will be required to purchase or rent a property.

3. Greece

Greece’s residency-by-investment program is a little more difficult to navigate. You’ll need to make an investment of at least €250,000 in real estate. However, this amount will vary depending on where you are investing in real estate. The minimum investment in Athens is over €500,000. Alternatively, you can invest in a 10-year lease or timeshare agreement for a similar amount.

Alternative investment options are available, including making €400,000 in capital contributions to a company registered in Greece or investing at least €800,000 in corporate bonds. Additionally, would-be investors can deposit €400,000 into a domestic Greek financial institute. However, this investment must continue to reside there.

This program, launched in 2013, provides a five-year residence permit and allows visa-free access throughout the Schengen region.

4. Portugal

It’s a common misconception that residency-through-investment is no longer available in Portugal. While the ‘Mais Habitação Law’ was published in October 2023, there are still routes to obtaining a golden visa for Portugal.

Although several avenues were closed, you can make a €500,000 investment in a qualifying private equity or venture capital fund. Portugal’s residency-through-investment program provides a path to acquiring a European passport within five years.

Real estate investments no longer qualify for this program. However, you can acquire residency by investing €500,000 or more in research activities, €250,000 or more in national cultural heritage projects, or €500,000 or more in commercial companies to create at least 10 jobs.

5. Spain

While Spain is still currently on this list, the Spanish government agreed to take steps toward eliminating its golden visa in April 2024 to ease its housing shortage.

For now, Spain’s residency-through-investment program requires an initial investment of at least €2 million in Spanish public debt security or €1 million in stocks or shares in Spanish companies. Investors must purchase real estate worth at least €500,000.

Like the EB-5 visa, Spain’s program allows investors to obtain a visa for their spouse, unmarried partner, and financially dependent children.

6. Malta

Malta’s Individual Investor Program (MIIP) requires a minimum investment of €600,000 in a government-set national development fund. Additionally, foreign nationals are required to invest €10,000 in government-approved financial instruments. They must also commit to purchasing or renting a property in Malta for five years with a minimum value of €700,000.

The main benefit of Malta’s immigrant investor program is that after one year of residency, you can apply for Maltese citizenship, which allows you to obtain a European passport.

7. Antigua and Barbuda

While the countries above are some of the most popular golden visas, there are other alternatives you should consider. The Antigua and Barbuda citizenship-by-investment program allows you to obtain an economic passport for visa-free travel to over 150 countries, including the Schengen area.

It’s one of the fastest immigrant investor programs, as it’s possible to obtain citizenship and a passport within just six months. There are different investment options available, including contributing $100,00 to the Antigua National Development Fund, investing $1.5 million in establishing a business or investing $400,000 in a government-approved real estate project. If you choose to invest in real estate, the property must be held for a minimum of five years.

8. Turkey

Turkey is another country with a faster processing time for investors seeking citizenship and a foreign passport.

There are several investment programs you can choose from to acquire Turkish citizenship. You can invest $400,000 in real estate with a three-year holding period, $500,000 in a company, or deposit $500,000 in a state bank. However, this deposit must be kept in the account for at least three years.

Investing in a business and creating at least 50 jobs for Turkish citizens can also provide you with citizenship through investment. You can also purchase a minimum of $500,000 in government bonds, held for three years, or make a $500,000 investment in a venture capital investment fund, to be kept for a minimum of three years.

It’s possible to obtain Turkish citizenship through investment in as little as three to six months.

9. UK Innovator Founder Visa

While you might expect the United Kingdom to have a comparable investor program to the EB-5 visa, its Innovator Founder Visa is harder to navigate. This residency-through-investment visa is aimed at foreign nationals with sufficient funds and experience to establish and grow new businesses in the UK.

Your business or business idea will be assessed by an endorsing body approved by the Home Office, which will assess the viability of the business. If it’s approved, you’ll receive an endorsement letter to submit as part of your application for a UK Innovator Founder Visa.

Successful applicants are given three years of residency in the UK, during which time they can bring their immediate family to the UK. At the end of the three years, they can apply for an extension of a further three years or choose to settle permanently with indefinite leave to remain. The initial application, extension, and settlement will require endorsement from a relevant body. 

A UK Innovator Founder Program permit can be acquired within just three weeks with permanent residency for three years. The UK has an attractive tax system for foreign residents who do not seek citizenship, and this program can be used to provide access to world-leading schools and universities.

Applicants for the UK Innovator Founder Program must be at least 18 years old and have a new or viable business idea supported by an endorsement letter from a Home Office-approved body.

They are required to demonstrate that they have sufficient investment funds to establish and grow their business and prove they will be the sole member or an instrumental part of their founding team. Unlike the EB-5 visa, this UK program requires applicants to speak a level of English that is equivalent to at least a CEFR intermediate Level B2.

A qualifying new business under the UK Innovator Founder Program must meet three criteria:

  • It must be an original business plan that meets current or new market needs or creates a competitive advantage.
  • It must be a realistic and achievable business plan. Applicants must have or be developing the required skills, experience, and knowledge to run their business.
  • There must be evidence of the business’s scalability and the potential for job creation, with the option of growth in national and international markets.

Become a U.S. Citizen Through Investment with an EB-5 Visa

EB-5 Insider is your partner in simplifying your path to U.S. residency through investment. The EB-5 visa is the fastest route for foreigners seeking U.S. citizenship or permanent residency through investment. It is one of the most attractive ‘golden visa’ programs in the world.

You can obtain a permanent U.S. green card for yourself, your spouse, and any unmarried children under 21 years of age for an investment of $800,000. The EB-5 visa program allows you to work, live, and start a business anywhere in the United States. Start the process of applying for an EB-5 visa today, or contact our team for more information.

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