The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is one of the fastest and most reliable ways for foreign investors to achieve permanent resident status in the United States. An investor, their spouse, and all of their unmarried children under the age of 21 will be eligible for U.S. green cards after making a qualifying EB 5 investment.
The final step in the EB 5 visa investment process is filing an I-829 petition.
With the right preparation, immigrant investors and their immigration attorneys can successfully file Form I-829 and finally achieve full permanent resident status in the United States.
What Is an I 829 Form?
Filing Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, is the last step of the EB-5 process.
Through the I-829 petition, investors must demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that their EB 5 investment project proceeded according to the plan set out in their I-526 or I-526E petition, and met all the necessary criteria for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
If Form I-829 is approved, the EB-5 investor will receive full permanent resident status.
The l-829 petition requires strong evidentiary backing in order to obtain approval from USCIS. Investors are advised to work with an experienced immigration attorney.
When Must An I 829 Form Be Filed?
An I-829 petition is for immigrant investors who have already successfully applied for EB 5 visa eligibility and received their two-year conditional permanent resident green cards.
Prior Steps to Filing Form I 829
After an immigrant investor makes a qualifying EB 5 investment in a new commercial enterprise (NCE), they must file either Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by a Standalone Investor, or Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by a Regional Center Investor, in order to prove their investment and qualifications for immigration under the EB 5 Immigrant Investor Program.
If their I-526 or I-526E petition is approved, immigrant investors and all of their eligible family members will receive U.S. green cards, with two-year conditional permanent resident status.
When to File an I 829 Petition
Form I-829 must be submitted within the last 90 days of an EB-5 investor’s two-year conditional permanent residency period.
According to the official filing instructions for Form I-829 on the USCIS website:
If you fail to file this petition within the 90-day period immediately preceding the second anniversary of obtaining your conditional permanent resident status, USCIS will terminate your conditional permanent resident status and you will become removable from the United States.
Because of this very specific timeframe, it is important for investors to start preparing the evidence required for their I-829 petition well in advance of the final three months.
An immigration attorney typically files Form I-829 on behalf of an immigrant investor and their family.
What Is Required to File An I 829 Form?
The official USCIS filing fee for Form I-829 is $3,750 as of November 2022.
The immigrant investor must also submit an additional, separate biometric services filing fee of $85 with their I-829 petition.
An additional, separate biometrics service fee of $85 is also due at the time of filing Form I-829 for any of the investor’s eligible family members between the ages of 14 and 79 who are applying to remove conditions from their conditional permanent resident status.
To demonstrate on an I-829 petition that their investments qualify for the EB-5 program, foreign nationals must provide documentation about the project and their financial involvement in it.
Evidence of a Qualifying EB-5 Investment
The first step is to show that the immigrant investor’s EB 5 investment was made in a qualifying new commercial enterprise (NCE) and that the immigrant investor themselves was involved in the management of the NCE.
To provide supporting evidence for their chosen NCE on Form I-829, immigrant investors should include documents such as:
- The NCE’s articles of incorporation, partnership agreement, joint venture agreement, certificate of limited partnership, business trust agreement, or other foundational documents.
- The NCE’s audited financial statements, investment agreements, payroll records, tax returns, bank account statements, or other certified financial reports.
- The NCE’s legal permits and contracts, especially with regards to hiring, employment, and any contracts the commercial enterprise has with outside vendors.
- Any evidence of the investor’s involvement in the daily management or policymaking decisions of the NCE, including signed statements of their job title (board member, limited partner, etc.) and detailed descriptions of their duties.
The second step is to provide financial or bank statements proving that the immigrant investor actually invested lawfully sourced funds totaling at least the required minimum investment.
As of October 2022, the minimum investment threshold for targeted employment area (TEA) projects is $800,000. For non-TEA projects, the minimum is $1,050,000.
An immigrant investor must also prove that their EB-5 investment funds remained “at risk”, with the potential to result in either gains or losses, for the entire length of their investment.
Additionally, foreign nationals must also demonstrate that the monies for their EB 5 capital investment were lawfully sourced.
Supporting evidence for these elements of the I 829 petition should include:
- Bank statements from both the immigrant investor and their new commercial enterprise, clearly demonstrating the correct amounts deposited in U.S. business accounts for the NCE.
- Invoices, purchase contracts, sales receipts, or other evidence of NCE assets purchased using the immigrant investor’s EB 5 capital investment.
- Securities agreements, mortgage agreements, promissory notes, or other such NCE borrowing secured by the immigrant investor’s EB 5 capital investment.
As far as the U.S. federal government is concerned, the primary objective of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is to stimulate domestic job creation, especially in rural areas or areas of high unemployment.
When filing an I 829 petition, immigrant investors must prove that at least 10 full-time jobs— 35 hours per week or more— were created as a result of their EB 5 capital investment.
Immigrant investors must also demonstrate that those same 10 employment positions each lasted for a minimum of two years.
Job creation calculations are different for direct EB-5 projects and those carried out through the regional center program.
For direct investments, only full-time workers employed by the NCE on a W-2 tax form can be counted towards the job creation requirement.
Appropriate evidence for qualifying direct job creation can include:
- Employee tax forms and payroll documents (Form I-9, etc) from the NCE.
For regional center investments, immigrant investors can include both direct jobs and indirect or induced jobs when demonstrating compliance with job creation. Indirect or induced jobs are calculated by examining the EB-5 project’s broader economic impact, such as vendors whose work was sustained by the deployment of the investor’s EB 5 capital.
If indirect job creation is claimed, evidence supporting this claim can also include:
- Bank statements, purchase agreements, invoices, receipts, or other such evidence; in addition to
- Payroll records, tax documents, or otherwise from the NCE.
In addition to the above criteria related to the nature of the EB-5 project, the I-829 petition asks for personal information about the immigrant investor, their conditional permanent resident spouse, and all unmarried children under 21 years of age who are also applying for permanent resident status.
In addition to providing common identifying information and forms of identification– i.e., green cards, passports, etc– the investor and their family may need to provide USCIS with additional information.
For example, if the investor or their qualifying family members have a criminal record, this must be noted on the petition, along with any law enforcement statements or pending court actions.
Similarly, if the investor has passed away and the applicant is a family member, the necessary evidence should be supplied.
Where Must an I 829 Form Be Filed?
This visa petition must be submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An immigration attorney usually files this on an investor’s behalf.
What Happens Once You File An I 829 Form?
Once an immigrant investor and their immigration attorney have filed form I 829, they will receive a filing receipt number from USCIS.
According to the USCIS website:
If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts your petition before your conditional permanent resident status is terminated, your conditional permanent resident status will automatically be extended for 18 months.
You will receive a filing receipt that you should carry with your Permanent Resident Card.
The date of USCIS receipt on an immigrant investor’s I-829 filing receipt is the date that the 18-month extension of their conditional resident status begins.
If an immigrant investor needs to travel outside of the United States during this extended conditional permanent resident status, they should present both their U.S. green card (Permanent Resident Card) and their I-829 filing receipt to any U.S. customs agent, border patrol agent, or other immigration services, as proof that they are eligible to return to the United States after their travel.
USCIS may request more information from an applicant or require them to appear in person for an interview at a USCIS office. Any official USCIS request will appear in writing by postal service.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent government shutdowns, have had an adverse effect on I-829 petition processing times since 2020. According to historic processing data on the USCIS website, I-829 processing times nearly doubled between FY 2020 and FY 2022, to a staggering 45 and a half months.
However, with the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, the U.S. Congress was able to appropriate more funds and resources to USCIS, in an effort to improve processing times to pre-pandemic levels in the near future.
Upon I 829 Form Approval, What Can You Expect?
Upon approval of Form I-829 by USCIS, the investor will receive permanent resident status in the United States for themselves, their conditional permanent resident spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21. The investor’s conditional residency restriction will be removed.
This means that immigrant investors and their families can legally live, work, study, and travel anywhere in the United States without any restrictions. Investors can even live and work in U.S. states that do not have state income tax, like Texas or Florida.
Eligible children of investors can even apply for U.S. public higher education at the local or “in-state” tuition rate for permanent U.S. residents.
With permanent resident status, investors do not require an employee visa sponsor to work at any business in the United States. They can jump from U.S. job to U.S. job without filing forms for additional visas.
Following five years of EB-5 resident status, the EB-5 investor and their family will also be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Do You Need An Immigration Attorney To Help You?
Nearly all immigrant investors rely on an immigration attorney to file Form I-829.
Immigrant investors must prove that they and their family members have complied with all laws and tenets of the EB 5 Immigrant Investor Program, and that their investment has proceeded according to their NCE’s comprehensive business plan as set forth in their I-526 or I-526E petition.
A successful I-829 petition requires a significant amount of supporting documentation from many different sources, and every immigrant investor and every NCE is different.
Because this step is so crucial, and because of the complex and individual nature of each petitioner’s documentation, investors are recommended to follow the guidance of their immigration attorneys when preparing Form I-829.
Where to Get Started
The EB-5 visa program has successfully brought thousands of immigrant investors and their families to the United States since its 1990 formation.
For those investors who are counting down to the last 90 days of their current conditional permanent resident status, the path to a successful I-829 petition is straightforward. But the supporting documentation requires expert help to gather.
EB5AN always has a qualified EB-5 expert representative ready at hand, to respond to any EB-5 or I-829 question or need.
The team at EB-5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) has helped over 2,000 families from more than 60 countries to successfully begin their EB-5 visa journey.
Email EB5AN anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, call by phone or What’s App at 1-800-288-9138, or schedule a free consultation to start the immigration process and move to the United States through an EB-5 visa.