The EB-5 visa, employment-based fifth preference category, is the 5th (and last) category of all employment-based immigration categories. Foreign investors that wish to immigrate to the United States have the option to obtain an EB-5 visa and gain entry into the U.S. EB-5 investor visas differ from other types of U.S. visas as they’re the only employment-based visas that require investment. This unique visa offers a means for foreigners to acquire a green card and eventually citizenship in the United States. However, foreign investors must meet specific requirements to be eligible for an EB-5 visa.
EB-5 Visa Requirements
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services oversee the Immigrant Investor Program. Foreign investors who invest at least $1 million into a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. are eligible for an EB-5 visa. The investment needs to be just $500,000 if made in a targeted employment area (TEA). The investment must also create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. While they don’t need to necessarily control it, applicants for a U.S. green card based on investment must take an active role in the business. Meeting these requirements is crucial as green cards for investors are limited to just 10,000 per year.
It’s important to note that the $500,000 to $1 million investment can take many forms. It can include cash, equipment, inventory, tangible property, secured indebtedness, or cash equivalents. However, the investment must be valuated based on the U.S. dollar fair-market value. If investing in a TEA designation, the EB-5 project must be located in a rural area or an area of high unemployment. High unemployment locations must have a national unemployment rate of at least 150 percent during the time of the EB-5 investment. The rural area must have a minimum population of 20,000 people. Rural areas can also be located in designated metropolitan statistical areas.
Job creation requirements must also be met. In addition to creating at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers, the jobs must be available within two years of the investor receiving their conditional permanent residency. An investor may also have to prove that their investment resulted in direct jobs for employees working in a commercial entity. If the investment was made in a regional center, the investor may only have to show that 10 full-time induced or indirect jobs were created.
Acquiring a Green Card
It takes an average of 1 to 2 years for an EB-5 applicant to acquire a conditional green card. First the foreign investor must receive approval for an I-526 petition (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur). This takes about six months. Petitions that are living in the U.S. will then need to wait in additional six months for approval of their adjustment of status applications. Depending on how long it takes for the background check to clear, this process could extend past six months. If a petitioner is living abroad at the time of their application submission, they must apply for an immigration visa through a U.S. consular office, which can also take six months.
Once a foreign investor gains approval for their adjustment of status application, he or she should receive a conditional green card within a few weeks. Families of the investor should also receive green cards at the same time. These green cards are sent to the investor’s U.S. address. Before an investor can receive a green card without conditions, they must first receive a conditional green card. A conditional green card is a temporary card that is valid for two years. To remove the conditions and receive a permanent green card, the investor must file Form I-829 along with evidence that all requirements have been met for the EB-5 investment.
Obtaining Permanent Residence
To obtain permanent residence in the United States a foreign investor must transition through the EB-5 program. If all steps are completed, the investor and his or her spouse and unmarried children under age 21 have the option to become U.S. permanent residents. These individuals can also become full U.S. citizens five years after acquiring their permanent residency.
- Locate an EB-5 Project:
- File an I-526 Petition:
- Become a Two Year Conditional Resident:
- File an I-829 Petition:
EB-5 investor visas are available to investors who have a suitable business project to invest in. Business projects can consist of new commercial enterprises or regional center projects. Investors must also meet income requirements.
Once the investor has chosen a project to invest in, he or she must make the required capital investment amount, which ranges from $500,000 to $1 million. Investments are made into an escrow account. An immigration attorney can then provide proof of this investment by filing an I-526 petition with the USCIS. The investor will usually know if he or she has been accepted after 12 to 18 months. If the investor is declined, most regional centers will refund the investment.
Applicants must become a two year conditional resident of the U.S. Investors may be eligible to become U.S. residents after their I-526 petition has been approved. If already in the U.S., the investor must file Form I-485. If the investor is not in the U.S., he or she must file for an immigrant visa by submitting Form DS-230. The investor must also process through the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
The final step in the EB-5 process is to file an I-829 petition with the USCIS. This petition must be submitted 90 days prior to the anniversary of the date that the investor first received their conditional residency. Once an I-829 has been submitted, the investor will usually receive a permanent green card in 6 to 8 months.
The EB-5 program gives entrepreneurs in other countries the chance to apply for a green card if they meet all requirements. In recent years, the program has received an average of 5,500 petitions per year. Acquiring EB-5 investor visas offers a number of flexibilities, such as ability to use their own personal funds without a sponsorship from an employer or family member. However, acquiring Eb-5 investor visas also require a significant amount of work. To ensure a speedy immigration process and that you’re following all guidelines correctly, contact us today at Pride Immigration.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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