The EB-5 visa is a unique investment and visa opportunity. This visa provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing at least $1,000,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers. Often times Indian investors choose to invest in an EB-5 Regional Center in targeted employment areas (TEAs) such as rural or high unemployment areas because the investment threshold lowers to $500,000. By putting more money into a business and creating new jobs for American workers, the visa is designed to help boost the American economy. While initially the EB-5 visa holders are issued a conditional green card, after a period of time they are able to apply for a permanent residency and obtain a green card.
What is the Timeline For Applying For an EB-5 Visa?
It takes approximately 26-36 months to apply and receive the EB-5 visa. Compared to other employment-based visas, this is actually considered a shorter application process due to other visas using the lottery system, which can prolong the application process for years. The first step in applying for the EB-5 visa is deciding how you’re going to invest your money. You can either start a new commercial enterprise or invest in a project through the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Next, you will make your capital investment and have your immigration attorney file an I-526 petition with USCIS. Preparing for filing the petition can take up to two months with the help of an immigration attorney.
The next step in the process is waiting for the petition to be approved. The Immigrant Investor Program (IPO) currently has over 30,000 petitions, which means it might take up to 25 months to hear back on the status of your application. If your petition is approved, you move forward by applying for a conditional green card. If you are not currently living in the United States, this step is relatively straightforward and usually takes between 4 to 9 months. You should be prepared to have an interview at the U.S. consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. If you are currently residing in the United States, your immigration attorney will have to file a petition to convert your temporary status to lawful permanent residence status. This can take from between 3 to 6 months.
Capital Investment Requirements For the EB-5 Visa
The minimum investment in a business required for this visa is $1,000,000. If the business is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), then the minimum drops to $500,000. The secured assets must be in the form of cash, inventory, intangible property and equipment. This capital is calculated according to the U.S. fair-market value for the same or similar assets. Capital cannot be borrowed, it must come from the investor themselves. This does include debt leverage that is commonly used in the acquisition of businesses outside of the visa program.
How EB-5 Regional Centers Operate
Regional centers are federally approved third-party intermediaries that profit through a commission by connecting foreign investors with developers in need of funding. They are usually private for-profit businesses that are approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Private and government agencies are allowed to apply to be a regional center, however, the process is rigorous. They must submit plans a detailed plan on how economic growth will be promoted with the investment, how jobs will be created, the amount and source of capital required to make this happen, and how they will be able to have a positive economic impact.
Why Invest in an EB-5 Regional Center?
Many people elect to work with the regional center program to make their investment because it is seen as easier, quicker, and requires less involvement from the investor. Many people also choose this option because it allows them to have a job with another company because they don’t have a major role in the running of the project. One of the benefits of investing in a regional center is that jobs may be created indirectly through economic activity. This is different than a direct investment because a direct investment requires one to directly employ 10 American workers. Investing in an EB-5 regional center is also advantageous to many investors because it can be done in a shorter amount of time that starting a new business.
Choosing the Right EB-5 Regional Center
USCIS has designed over 600 regional centers that you can choose from. Because there are so many projects to choose from, you can select on that interests you or that is most suitable for you. Most EB-5 regional center projects involve real estate development and construction, like hotels, resorts, residential complexes, shopping complexes, etc. While the majority of the project center around construction, there are some that focus on other industries such as transportation and energy. Consult with an immigration attorney for more information and for help on how to apply for the EB-5 visa.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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