Foreign nationals who are looking for a safe, reliable way to immigrate to the United States should consider the EB-5 investment program, which has enabled thousands of investors to obtain U.S. green cards. However, the complexity and length of the EB-5 visa process may seem intimidating—it can take many years to obtain EB-5 permanent residency, and there is no guarantee that simply making an EB-5 investment will result in a green card. Moreover, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets out very specific requirements for both EB-5 investors and project developers. USCIS may deny an investor’s visa petition if they fail to comply with these guidelines.
Moreover, applying for an EB-5 visa requires completing several USCIS forms. EB-5 investors must work closely with their immigration counsel to file the I-526 and I-829 petitions, which must prove that a qualifying EB5 investment has been made.
Therefore, foreign nationals interested in the EB-5 program should start planning as soon as possible. Doing so will make the EB-5 process as efficient and smooth as possible. In this article, we explain how foreign nationals can plan for their EB-5 investments and how they can get started on the EB-5 process.
How to Prepare for an EB-5 Investment
The first step is to hire an immigration attorney. Due to the complexity of the EB-5 visa petitions, it is crucial to work with experienced immigration counsel. EB-5 investors should look for attorneys who have helped several clients gain approval for Forms I-526 and I-829.
The next step is to identify a USCIS-compliant EB-5 project. Foreign nationals should do careful research on the project’s overall financial structure and its management team, especially the individuals that will manage the EB-5 investment funds. In the past, some EB-5 investors have been victims of fraud. Moreover, if an EB-5 project does not follow USCIS guidelines, especially the requirement to create at least 10 jobs per EB-5 investment, its investors will be ineligible for U.S. green cards.
Beginning the EB-5 Process
Once a foreign national has chosen an EB-5 project, it will be time to sign the project’s subscription agreement and inject the investment amount. As of June 22, 2021, the minimum investment threshold is $500,000 for projects in targeted employment areas (TEAs). Projects outside TEAs require a minimum EB-5 investment of $1,000,000.
Then, EB-5 investors must compile Form I-526. Preparing Form I-526 is one of the most time-consuming and crucial stages of the EB-5 process; USCIS is careful to review all of the information provided in this visa petition. The agency is particularly strict when reviewing an investor’s source of funds. In their I-526 petitions, EB-5 investors must provide exhaustive documentation tracing their EB5 investment capital back to its source. They must also prove that the funds were sourced lawfully.
Since USCIS has a high evidentiary standard for source-of-funds documentation, EB-5 investors should start preparing the evidence as soon as possible, even before making their investments. It is important to keep in mind that the required documentation will vary depending on the source of funds used. Many EB-5 investors choose to use stock proceeds, salary payments, gifted funds, inheritances, secured loans, or other similar sources.
Participating in the EB5 investment industry requires careful planning and research, but thousands of foreign nationals who are now permanent residents of the United States can attest that the effort is worthwhile. Consulting firms such as EB5 Affiliate Network can also provide investors with personalized guidance and help them choose the best EB-5 projects.