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EB-5 is a government program that allows foreigners to make investments of $500,000 or $1 million in qualified American projects in return for an expedited green card for themselves and their family members. Many of the participants are looking to retire in the U.S. or send their children to American colleges.
The program has traditionally been underutilized, but less so in recent years, as traditional bank lending has grown tighter and businesses have looked to alternative lending methods to finance major projects. Each year, the government sets aside 10,000 EB-5 visas, and while that cap has never been hit, there were 7,461 EB-5 visas applications filed in 2012, more than double the number filed in 2011.