Are you a foreign investor seeking residency in the United States? If so, the EB-5 visa might be a viable option for you and your family. The visa program, created by Congress in 1990, was designed to spur growth in the U.S. economy while providing an entryway into the country for interested investors. Due to the significant benefits, there’s been a recent surge in interest in EB-5 visas from foreign investors in India and China, and which accounts for a large portion of applicants.
How the EB-5 program works
Entrepreneurs (and their families) can apply for a green card if they invest in a new commercial enterprise and create/preserve at least ten full-time jobs for domestic workers. According to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, which operates the program, investments must total at least one million dollars. However, there’s an exception for investors in high unemployment or rural areas; for those projects, the minimum capital infusion must total $500,000. (USCIS notes that investment capital cannot be borrowed money.)
Qualified investors and their families will be granted two year visas upon completion of the application process and approval, with the possibility of permanent residency down the road. There’s currently a cap of 10,000 per year on the amount of green cards distributed to EB-5 recipients.
Applying for an EB-5 visa
The application process involves several steps. First, an applicant must fill out Form I-526 Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur. This form will provide evidence of investment in a new commercial enterprise that, if necessary, is operating in a targeted employment area. The form also mandates evidence of the investment itself, including documentation showing the money was acquired by legal means.
For job creation/preservation, the applicant will need to show the project will produce at least 10 full-time jobs (not including jobs for family members of the investor). If the business involved is a troubled enterprise, the investor must provide proof that existing jobs will remain in place for at least two years.
Next, the investor is required to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status or file DS-230 or DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. Form I-485 modifies the status of an existing resident in the United States while forms DS-230 or DS-260 (filed with the State Department rather than USCIS) are needed to acquire an EB-5 visa to enter the country.
For EB-5 recipients who are approaching their two-year anniversary in the country, Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions can be filed 90 days before this date. If approved, the investor and family members will be permitted to reside permanently in the United States.
Investors can either back a project directly or with private regional centers certified by the government and designed to administer visa projects. There are nearly 800 regional centers, a number that has mushroomed in recent years, and according to The New York Times, about 95 percent of program participants choose to invest through them.
While the benefits may seem obvious to new immigrants, regional center fees and contracts are unregulated, and investors may be hit with hefty charges to pay for administrative expenses. Some centers advertise heavily overseas, and may promote the benefits of the program while playing down pitfalls, summarized by Fortune: “When ‘administrative’ fees of about $50,000 are added, [investors are] typically paying for the privilege of sinking $500,000 into a U.S. venture for five to seven years—with no guarantee that they’ll ever get it back. And in part because of distance and language barriers, the targets of EB-5 pitches seem ill-equipped (or disinclined) to assess the business risks.”
Request More Information on EB-5 Visas Today!
EB-5 visas carry appealing benefits for those who qualify. To learn more about EB-5 visas, the EB-5 process, or how KPPB Law can help you to successfully reach your goal, please contact our firm directly at (703) 594-4040 or send us a message online. We provide consultations for interested applicants so that they can discuss their goals and options before making any important decisions.