The EB-5 visa, employment-based fifth preference category or EB-5 Visa Program or EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, created in 1990 by the Immigration Act of 1990, provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing at least $1,800,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.”
Most immigrant investors who use the EB-5 program invest in a targeted employment area (TEA) — a rural area or area with high unemployment — which lowers the investment threshold to $900,000. The EB-5 program is intended to encourage both “foreign investments and economic growth”.
Applicants have the choice of investing individually or they can choose to work through a “larger investor pool via regional centers (RC)” which is federally approved third-party intermediaries that connect foreign investors with developers in need of funding. If an EB-5 investment is made in a regional center, the jobs may be created indirectly through economic activity, as opposed to a direct investment, where the investment vehicle must directly employ the 10 U.S. workers.
Basic Requirements for an EB-5 Visa
- The foreign applicant must independently establish a business OR invest into an existing business which was created or restructured after 19 November 1990.
- The investment must create at least ten Full-time jobs for legal U.S. residents or citizens.
- The foreign investor is required to invest USD $1,800,000 into the aforementioned business (or USD $900,000 when investing into a USCIS designated regional center).
- The investor needs to Provide a comprehensive evidence that the investment funds used for the same is lawfully obtained.
- The applicant must be at least 21 years of age.
- He must provide proof of net worth and legal source of assets.
Stages of US citizenship By Investment
Stage 1 = The Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, referred to as I-526 petition, is prepared and submitted to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The Regional Center is responsible for providing all relevant information pertaining to the Investment Project to the investor’s attorney, and it is crucial for obtaining approval of the initial I-526 petition that the investment funds were legally earned. It generally takes approximately 3-4 months for the I-526 petition to be adjudicated. The processing time can vary from one Regional Center to another, if USCIS has doubts and/or additional questions about a given Regional Center or project.
Stage 2 = Applying for Permanent Residence (2-Year Conditional Green Card): When the I-526 petition is approved, investors have the option of adjusting their status to permanent residence in the U.S., if they are already living in the U.S. in non-immigrant visa status. If they live outside of the U.S., they must complete the immigrant visa process through the U.S. consulate. Adjustment of status in the U.S. generally takes 6-12 months or more, while immigrant visa processing through the consulate takes about 4-6 months. Once either of these two processes is completed, the investor will have obtained a two-year conditional permanent residence.
Stage 3 = Removal of Conditions (Applying for the permanent green card): During the final 90 days of the two-year conditional residence period, the investor must file the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, referred to as I-829 petition, to remove the condition from his/her permanent residence. As part of that process, we must show that the investor has maintained the investment, and we must present proof to USCIS from the Regional Center that it has brought about the creation of at least 10 jobs per immigrant investor, as presented in the I-526 petition. The number of jobs created is calculated with the help of an economist’s model, and consists of a combination of direct, indirect, and induced jobs. This process currently takes 6-12 months.
Investors who have lived in the U.S. for at least 50% of the time in the past five years after receiving their Green Card, maintained a clean criminal record and have acquired knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, as well as an understanding of US history, values, institutions and symbols are eligible to apply for Citizenship.
Express Interest in a Business Project
The immigrant investor has to express interest in investing in an EB-5 business project in the United States. This can be done through an approved regional center or via an starting a new business as an individual.
(Will be completed after 2-4 weeks of the start of the Program)
Prove Financial Capability
The investor has to show they have sufficient capital investment to invest in the project and this investment should be from verifiable and legal sources.
(Will be completed after 3-6 weeks of the start of the Program)
Transfer Money into an Escrow Account
Once the investor decides the project they want to invest in, they have to send $900,000 or $1.8 million to an escrow account from where it will be allocated to the project. If the investor goes through a regional center, the funding contribution is $900,000; whereas as an individual, it is $1.8 million.
(Will be completed after 5-10 weeks of the start of the Program)
Filing Form I-526
The investor has to file an I-526 form with the USCIS. This form is a petition requesting the USCIS to approve the applicant’s application; the immediate family can apply for conditional permanent residency.
(Will be completed after 9-14 weeks of the start of the Program)
In case the petition is denied, the escrow agent returns the money to the immigrant investor.
(Will be refunded within 12- 24 weeks from the date of Decision)
Release of Fund
Once the Form I-526 is approved, the escrow agent releases the amount in the escrow account to the business or project
(Will be completed after 62- 92 weeks of the start of the program)
2-year Conditional Permanent Residency
Upon approval of the I-526 form, they must prepare documents for the EB-5 Visa. They would need to submit for a DS-230 at the National Visa Center and proceed with the formalities at the U.S. Embassy or consulate to physically relocate to the United States.
(Will be completed after 74-108 weeks of the start of the Program)
Filing I-829 petition for permanent residency
After 2 years after their arrival, the investor can use the I-829 form for removal of conditional status from the visa. To do this, the investor should show the investment has created 10 direct full-time jobs for U.S. citizens. If the investor invests through a regional center, the 10 full-time jobs can be direct, indirect or induced. After the conditional status of the EB-5 visa is removed, the investor acquires permanent residency in the United States by filing the I-829 petition.
(Needs be completed before completing 92 weeks since acquiring the conditional residency)
After five years, the investor can file an application for acquiring U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
Benefits of EB-5 Investor Visa Program
Lawful status in the United States of America
Obviously, this is the main goal of the majority of foreign investors who apply for an EB-5 visa. The visa allows the investor, their spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21, a legal path to live, work, and study in the U.S.
Quicker path to permanent residence and citizenship
In many cases, the EB-5 visa can facilitate the path to permanent residence faster than other types of visas and green cards. Additionally, immigrants with an EB-5 visa may be eligible for citizenship in as little as 5 years after achieving permanent resident status.
No sponsorship and language requirement
An EB-5 visa investor essentially acts as his own sponsor. There are no requirements outside the investment in an American business. Neither do they need to be sponsored by any American and group nor does they need to qualify for any level of language proficiency
Monetary return on investment
Though the investment’s primary purpose is to serve the purpose of providing the investor with an entry and residency to the U.S., the right investment can also lead to profits and further income for the applicant.
Freedom to live and work anywhere in the U.S
Investors have the option to live and work wherever they want. Other types of visas, on the other hand, have much more strict requirements, which visa holders must follow or lose status.
Education and employment opportunities for children
The EB-5 investment visa allows the children of the foreign investors to enroll in school, with access to the same education and higher education as much as a normal U.S. citizen. This includes access to public and private high schools, college, and graduate schools (including medical school or law school). After their education is completed, children have access to the same professional opportunities as any other child in the U.S.
No backlogs and enough annual intakes
There are many delays and backlogs for employment and family based green card categories. Contrary to this, there is no backlog for the EB5 Visa Investor category while as many as 10,000 of such visas being issued annual to investors around the world.
No requirement to continually renew/ re-qualify visa status for EB5 Visa permanent residents
After the I-829 ‘removal of conditions’ approval, the EB5 investor and qualifying family members then receive permanent US residency without the need to continuously meet a qualification criterion like other category visas.
No Practical day-to-day Business Management
Most regional centers are limited partnerships, if the petitioner is a limited partner under the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, the investor will be considered sufficiently engaged in the management of the enterprise to satisfy USCIS that requirement which states that investors should be engaged in the management of the enterprise as opposed to maintaining a purely passive role.
- Low investment requirement of $900,000 USD
- No English language requirement
- No minimum education requirement
- No management experience requirement
- Allows for dual citizenship
- Live, work or retire anywhere in the United States
- Physical presence expected only three to four months per year in the United States
- Residency for entrepreneur and family (spouse & unmarried children under the age of 21)
- Investment can come from gift, loan, inheritance, business ownership or any other lawful activities
- Eligible for U.S. citizenship (U.S. Passport) in only five years.