Recently, the EB-5 visa has become an extremely popular visa, even amidst a lot of uncertainty about potential upcoming changes. A major reason so many people are applying for the EB-5 visa is that there is currently no backlog. Through this visa, you can expect to have a green card within two years. This is a significantly shorter time than other visas such as the EB-2 and EB-3. This visa also doesn’t have a lottery system, which in some cases has caused people to wait around 10 years to receive their visa. The EB-5 visa is seen as easier to obtain because it has far fewer requirements that other employment-based visas. To be eligible for an EB-5 visa, all you must make an investment of $1,000,000 and prove that you obtained those funds legally.
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.
Investing in a Regional Center or NCE
Investors have two choices when it comes to their investment, they can either invest through the Regional Center program or through a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE). Many investors decide to invest through the Regional Center program because it’s simpler and quicker than starting their own business. Through the program, you pick a project that interests you to invest your money into. This is advantageous for the investor because the program usually wants minimum involvement from the investor, and because 10 full-time jobs can be created indirectly.
EB-5 Regional Centers
USCIS has designed over 600 regional centers for your choice of investment. Because there are so many projects to choose from, you can select one that is most suitable for you. Most regional center projects involve real estate development and construction, like hotels, resorts, residential complexes, shopping complexes, etc. While the majority of the project centers around construction, there are some that focus on other industries such as transportation and energy.
EB-5 New Commercial Enterprises
Establishing a new commercial enterprise can include creating an original business, purchasing an existing business, or the expansion of an existing business. This is ideal for investors who are looking to be more involved or have a specific business in mind they wish to create.
Risks of An EB-5 Investment
As with everything, there are some risks that can be associated with an EB-5 investment. Your personal wealth will be tied up in illiquid investments with no guarantees or safeguards, so it’s important to make sure you understand what the associated risks are.
Petition Rejection & Job Requirement Failure
The first major risk is that you have to make your investment before you file your I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur with no guarantee that your petition will be approved. The next possible risk is if your EB-5 project fails within the first two years. Most commonly, this means that the project is unable to meet the 10 job requirement or that the project goes bankrupt. In this situation, the conditions will not be removed from your green card.
Regional Center Failure
Choosing to invest thought the Regional Center program can be convenient, but it also comes with a lot of risks. While Regional Centers have to be approved by USCIS, this does not mean that USCIS offers any investor protection. Just because a Regional Center is approved does not mean that USCIS endorses any of its activities or guarantees that the project is in compliance with security laws. Failing to do diligent background investigating could result in investing in a Regional Center that fails or is fraudulent. If this occurs during the two year time period, the conditions will not be removed from your green card.
There is also a risk of being targeted by fraudsters. Firms or individuals claim they are ‘migration brokers’ or ‘immigration consultants’, when in reality they are usually associated with scams. This could cause you to lose money in paying their high fees, and also could cause you to invest in a fraudulent Regional Center.
Hire an Immigration Attorney With EB-5 Visa Law Experience
The only way you can be absolutely sure you’re protecting yourself from these potential risks is to work with an attorney who possesses specialized experience in EB-5 visa law. Working with an immigration attorney from the very beginning will ensure that every step of the process is properly completed. They will work with you to help select your investment, to fill out your application, and they will also be able to help protect your investment and mitigate the risk of its failure. Applying for a visa is an extremely complicated and lengthy process and should be done with the help of an immigration attorney who is experienced in EB-5 investment law. Their assistance is invaluable when it comes to obtaining your ultimate goal, getting a green card.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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