The EB-5 visa is rapidly becoming more popular, and as a result, many countries that offer these visas are concerned about reaching their cap. The cap is the number of applications that will be accepted within a year and it is specific to each country that is applicable for the visa. Should the cap be met, the process of obtaining an EB-5 visa will take much longer and become more difficult. If you are interested in applying for the EB-5 visa, reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and help in determining whether the EB-5 visa is best suited for you.

The EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program was adopted into law in 1990 with the goal of stimulating the American economy and creating American jobs through foreign investment. This is done with a minimum investment of $500,000 into a new commercial enterprise of a designated size. The investment can be done by purchasing an existing enterprise for reconstruction or reorganization to maximize results, or by showing that the investment will increase the network of the company or number of employees by a minimum of 40%. The minimum qualifying investment for this visa program is $1,000,000. However, in areas that are deemed high-unemployment areas and rural areas, the minimum investment required drops to $500,000. An immigration attorney can help you determine whether or not your investment location is eligible for the $500,000 requirement.

Who the EB-5 is For

Compared to other visas, the EB-5 is seen as offering a certain and smooth path to becoming a US immigrant. This is mostly due to the fact that this program has no educational or special qualifications requirements, it only requires you to make an investment. When it comes to the EB-5 visa, there are only two qualifications that you must meet. First, you must be able to invest at least $500,000 (plus additional costs such as fees and taxes) into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs. Second, you must be able to prove this money was lawfully obtained and that it’s not borrowed money. If you are able to meet these two qualifications, then the EB-5 visa is yours to obtain. Consider contacting an immigration attorney to make the process less stressful for you.

Why it’s So Popular

a woman running into her old immigration attorney during lunch after her EB-5 visa was approvedThere are many benefits that come along with an EB-5 visa, but what attracts most people to this program is the benefit of permanent residency. While permanent residency is not initially granted, it can be applied for after a period of time, usually under 21 months, with the condition that 10 permanent full-time jobs have in fact been created. Some visas explicitly state that while you have them you cannot apply for permanent residency, while others can take many years before you’re even allowed to apply.  An immigration attorney can inform you whether your current visa has this restriction or not.

Many people are attracted to this visa because it does not require you to speak English, you don’t need business management experience, you don’t need to meet any educational requirements, and college fees are offered at the same rates as U.S. citizens. This visa is so appealing to people because it is a direct route to permanent residency, whereas with other visas it can be far more complicated. If you have the money at your disposal, the EB-5 visa is a great way to obtain a visa to the United States.

The EB-5 visa is seen as easier to obtain that others such as the HB-1 visa, which has many requirements and a long waiting list. However, because so many people are starting to see the benefit of an EB-5 visa, it means that the cap could potentially be met. This trend is being seen in India where it is believed that they will reach the application cap in 2019.

The Current State of the Visa

The most current information about the EB-5 visa is that there has been an extension of the current EB-5 Regional Center Program through September 30, 2018, with no changes in the minimum investment. This means that applicants have more time to make their investment if they wish to do so through the program. However, some countries have already met their cap and as a result, no more applications will be accepted.

There is talk of reforming the Regional Center Program, however, there is a strong emphasis that any reforms must be fair to current EB-5 investors who are awaiting their turn to immigrate. There is also a push to increase the number of EB-5 investors and to reduce the backlog of Chinese and Vietnamese investors. This means they wish to make the cap higher and lessen the waiting list in countries where this visa is popular. As no reforms have currently been made, an effect of the cap being met is that the waiting period is extending.

What Reaching the Cap Means

an immigrant waiting for approval of his EB-5 visa after several years due to his country reaching maximum capacity requested EB-5 visasThe State Department has announced that as of May, they will no longer be accepting Chinese applications for the EB-5 this year due to them reaching their cap. This means that the waiting line to obtain an EB-5 is extending and could potentially result in a waiting period of two to three years. A shorter waiting period compared to other visas such as the HB-1 is what contributes to this visa. The increased waiting period may affect some individual’s decision to apply for the EB-5 visa.

With the increased waiting period, many people are concerned about their children aging out of the visa program before the visa is approved. Children under the age of 21 who are not married are allowed to accompany the visa holder to the United States. This is particularly concerning for some applicants as they are applying for this visa to allow their children to attend a US university. If the child turns 21 before the application is approved, then they must apply for their own visa to come to the United States.

The popularity of the EB-5 visa has grown immensely, yet unfortunately, the process of obtaining one is becoming much harder. If you think that the EB-5 visa might be for you, reach out to an immigration attorney for help applying for the program and determining if this visa is right for you, or if an alternative to the EB-5 visa would suit you better.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.