International Law and Immigration

Ca. Int'l Law Journal SPRING 2014, VOL. 22, NO. 1

Immigrant Investor Visas and Diversification: An Application of Modern Portfolio Theory to EB-5 Regional Centers

By William Tolin Gay1


The EB-5 or immigrant investor visa process is a method of obtaining green cards for wealthy foreign immigrants who invest money in the United States. The basic requirement for the EB-5 visa is to invest a certain sum of money in a business enterprise that creates at least ten permanent jobs over a two-year period. For the past several years, most immigrant investors have elected to invest in "regional centers," rather than creating their own businesses.2 A broad range of investment options are available to foreign immigrants, with varying levels of risk and return. This paper assumes that the principal reason for investing in a regional center is obtaining permanent residence.

Modern portfolio theory ("MPT") is a financial analysis methodology that assumes an investor can reduce overall risk, without necessarily reducing expected return, by means of intelligent diversification over a carefully selected portfolio of investments. MPT is at the core of most modern investment models.

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