The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a relatively quick and straightforward way for a foreign national to receive U.S. permanent residency status for themselves and their qualifying family members. However, application to the program comes with a list of requirements and forms for the investor to fill out, including the I-526 petition. This petition is the first that an investor submits to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and an investor should take care when filling out this petition. Careful preparation can reduce the chance of an investor receiving a request for evidence (RFE).
What Is in an I-526 Petition?
To submit an I-526 petition, an investor needs to submit the actual Form I-526, which includes information about themselves, their qualifying family members, and the project they have chosen to invest in. However, in addition to this form, the investor must also provide supplementary documentation. This documentation typically includes the business plan for the project as well as a hiring schedule and a list of the licenses and certification the project will require. The goal is to assure USCIS that a project is viable and likely to create 10 full-time jobs.
Even when a project receives I-924 exemplar status, investors must submit details and documentation about the project in their I-526 petitions. Regional centers typically provide this documentation to their investors.
An investor who makes their EB-5 investment in a targeted employment area (TEA) must also submit documents justifying the project’s TEA status. TEA-qualified projects have a lower minimum investment amount ($900,000 instead of $1.8 million), which makes them highly attractive for EB-5 investors. Regional centers typically assist their investors with the TEA eligibility paperwork.
Typically, the trickiest type of documentation for an I-526 petition is the proof of the lawful sources of an investor’s EB5 investment capital. USCIS will accept funds from a variety of sources ranging from business income to loans, gifts, and inheritance. However, investors must prove that they received their capital lawfully, which can be challenging or time-consuming in some cases.
In the case of inherited or gifted EB-5 investment capital, investors must demonstrate that they lawfully received the inheritance or gift in addition to proving that the donor legally obtained the funds. For income derived from a business, the investor must prove that they legally obtained the initial seed capital.
What Documents Does the I-526 Petition Require?
After an investor selects their EB-5 project and commits their capital to the EB-5 project’s escrow account, they need to begin compiling the documentation for their I-526 petition. Here is a brief overview of the required documents.
Investors must provide personal information, such as citizenship, age, and place of birth, in addition to more detailed personal history. For example, as part of this personal history, USCIS wants to learn about an investor’s employment and address history within the previous five years. If the investor lists any dependents on their I-526 petition, they must provide information about these family members as well.
Investors must provide documentation about the project they have chosen to invest in. The required documentation includes project paperwork and the business address. If the project is in a TEA, the investor must document this as well. If the investor works with an EB-5 regional center, they must provide information on the regional center.
Managerial Involvement Documentation
Investors must be actively involved in their project, although direct EB-5 investors are typically more involved than regional center investors. Regional center investors are usually not required to live close to the project, although they must document that they hold a policy-making role.
The precise documents an investor is required to provide to demonstrate that their EB-5 investment capital was sourced lawfully depends on the investor’s situation. The process is typically more difficult for some investors than others. Documents could include tax returns, bank statements, employment records, investment records, loan documentation, or gift records.
An experienced immigration attorney often streamlines the process and minimizes the chances of receiving an RFE.
If the investor’s documents are in a language other than English, they will need to obtain certified translations. These translations must provide the translator’s contact name and information in addition to the translator’s signature certifying the translation.