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A Precious Source For Small Biz

Katy Finneran

Under the Immigration Act of 1990, the U.S. Congress set aside 10,000 annual visas for foreign investors looking for opportunities in America. Those carrots are coming in handy during what remains a debilitating credit crunch for U.S. entrepreneurs.

Rather than wait a year or longer for other immigrant visas, foreign investors--through the so-called EB-5 program--can snag a slice of equity and a quick-and-dirty U.S. visa in just three-to-six months; plus, unlike other immigrant visas that might expire in a few years, the EB-5 flavor offers permanent residency. EB-5 minimum requirements: a $1 million investment from a lawful source in a new or existing commercial enterprise that directly creates at least 10 U.S. jobs. Investors can put up as little as $500,000 if the company is in a rural area or in a county sporting 150% of the average national unemployment rate. (Canada has a similar program, called the Canadian Business Immigrant Investment Program, though it doesn't impose any job-creation requirements.)

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