Are you interested in permanently immigrating to the United States? If so, your best bet is probably the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Under the EB-5 investment program, immigrants who invest $900,000 in a qualifying U.S. business located in a targeted employment area (TEA) can receive U.S. green cards for them and their families. If the project is located outside of a TEA, the minimum investment amount rises to $1.8 million.
Before You Invest
Researching the EB5 Investment Program
Before you consider making an EB-5 investment, you must understand the program’s various requirements:
- Investing $1.8 million, or $900,000, if the project is in a TEA
- Creating a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers
- Providing sufficient documentation that your EB5 investment capital is lawfully sourced
- Keeping your investment capital at risk for the entire duration of your EB-5 investment
Investors who choose to make their investment through an EB-5 regional center often find these requirements easier to satisfy.
Picking an EB-5 Project
It is crucial to conduct due diligence on an EB-5 project’s immigration and financial risks. Financial considerations include the conditions of the EB-5 investment conditions and the exit strategy. Under the EB-5 investment program, an investor’s capital must remain at risk for the entire investment period. In some cases, this may involve redeploying the capital, as failure to keep the capital at risk jeopardizes an EB-5 investment participant’s immigration status.
Making Your EB-5 Investment
After deciding on an EB-5 project that fits your needs, you must commit your capital to the project and begin compiling the documentation for your I-526 petition. The I-526 petition is the first form an EB-5 investor files to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the governing body that adjudicates EB-5 petitions. As compiling the materials for an I-526 petition can be a time-intensive process, EB-5 investors are recommended to retain an immigration attorney.
Regional centers typically provide the project’s documentation to their investors, although investors must work independently to prove that their EB5 investment capital was lawfully sourced. This process can be tricky, depending on the investor’s country of origin and the sources that they are using. However, working with a qualified EB-5 immigration attorney can make this process go quicker and reduce the chance that an investor will receive a request for evidence (RFE) from USCIS. Those investing in a TEA-qualified project are also responsible for justifying that the project qualifies as a TEA. While USCIS has strict rules for documenting a TEA, most regional centers provide the necessary documentation to their investors.
Once an I-526 petition is submitted, an investor receives a priority date. The priority date is important for investors from countries that have historically experienced high demand for the EB-5 investment program, as it determines their eligibility to receive or even apply for an EB-5 visa.
Applying for an EB-5 Visa and Permanent Residency
Applying for an EB-5 Visa
When an investor’s I-526 petition is approved, the investor and their family can formally apply for a U.S. green card. Investors who reside overseas are required to file Form DS-260 with their local U.S. consulate or embassy. After submitting this form, these investors must have an in-person visa interview. Investors already residing in the United States on a different visa are instead required to file an I-485 petition to adjust their immigration status.
Some countries have demand for EB-5 investments that is so high that investors from these countries—as of April 2021, China and Vietnam—must wait to receive their EB-5 visa or even file their EB-5 petition. These investors must wait until the final action dates and dates for filing move ahead of their priority date. These dates are published in monthly Visa Bulletins by the U.S. Department of State.
Conditional Permanent Residency and Filing an I-829 Petition
Once an investor and their qualifying family members receive green cards, they can move to the United States as two-year conditional permanent residents. During this two-year period, the investor must maintain their EB-5 investment’s at-risk status. During the final 90 days of their conditional residency period, the investor must then submit an I-829 petition to remove their residency’s conditions. On this I-829 petition, the investor must show that they kept their investment capital at risk and satisfied the program’s job creation requirement. At this stage of the process, investors are heavily encouraged to work with an EB-5 immigration attorney.
When an investor’s I-829 petition is approved, the investor and their qualifying family members can reside indefinitely in the United States. As a U.S. green card holder, the investor and their family can study, work, live, and travel anywhere in the United States without restrictions. Green card holders also receive many of the same privileges enjoyed by U.S. citizens, including tuition savings at U.S. universities and access to outstanding healthcare facilities. If an investor chooses, they can also apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of permanent residency, which includes their two years of conditional permanent residency.