Why the EB-5 Visa Is Ideal for Canadians Interested in Relocating to the United States

In recent years, Canadian citizens have been increasingly drawn by the prospect of living and working in the United States with their families. There are several ways of accomplishing this goal, but for many, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program presents the easiest and most efficient path. The EB-5 visa allows Canadian nationals to obtain a U.S. Green Card by making a qualifying investment in the U.S. economy, thereby allowing them to gain permanent resident status for their spouse and dependent children.

In this article, we will delve into the unique benefits the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program presents to Canadians seeking U.S. permanent residency, in addition to taking a closer look at the steps and requirements of the EB-5 visa.

Five Reasons Canadians May Wish to Relocate to the U.S.

Canada’s quality of life has long been regarded as one of the highest in the world; the country’s prosperous economy and political stability have helped it develop an exemplary global reputation. However, there are several reasons why Canadians continue to choose to immigrate to the United States. For many, the EB-5 visa is the best way to do this. Here are five of the most common reasons that Canadians are choosing to seek permanent residency in the United States.

1. Lower Taxes

Canadians often pay higher taxes than residents of the United States. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that Canada collected $14,693 USD per capita in tax revenue in 2010, while the United States collected only $11,365 USD per capita.

2. More Favorable Weather Conditions

Some Canadian investors may also be seeking warmer weather south of the border. Visit Florida, the official tourism marketing corporation of the U.S. state of Florida, reported in Q1 of FY2022 that Canada is the number one source of international visitors to the state of Florida.

3. Educational Opportunities

There are thousands of Canadian students enrolled in U.S. schools as international students. Canada had the fourth-highest number of international students in U.S. schools from any one country in 2022/23, surpassed only by China, India, and South Korea.

4. Work Opportunities

Many Canadians enter the United States through the workforce on H-1B temporary work visas. According to a FY2019 USCIS report, one percent of all H-1B visas in the United States were granted to Canadian nationals. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) also allows some highly educated Canadians to enter the United States on NAFTA Professional (or TN) visas.

5. Canada’s Social and Political Issues

Canada has recently encountered some problems that have called into question the country’s apparent political stability, leading to increased interest in seeking permanent residency in the United States. Examples include:

  • The lengthy 2022 “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa, which resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declaring a national public order emergency.
  • Questions over remaining members of the Commonwealth, as the public increasingly views the monarchy as outdated. In a 2022 poll, only 25% of the country thought Canada should remain a member.

How Many Canadians Are Seeking Permanent Residency in the United States?

According to the 2021 data from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, 60% of Canadian emigrants choose to take up permanent residency in the United States. As of 2021, there were more than 800,000 Canadian nationals with U.S. permanent residency.

Among U.S. metropolitan areas, 22% of all Canadian immigrants choose to live in just five cities: Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Miami, and Phoenix. In fact, 30% of all Canadian immigrants to the United States end up settling in just two states: California and Florida.

What Are Canadian Nationals’ Employment Prospects in the United States?

According to further data from the Migration Policy Institute, 65% of all Canadians in the U.S. workforce are employed in either science, the arts, management, or business. This compares to just 41% of U.S. natives employed in these sectors.

Source: Migration Policy Institute, migrationpolicy.org

Canadian lawful permanent residents in the United States also tend to have much higher incomes than native-born U.S. citizens, with an average income of $89,000 compared to $66,000 for U.S. natives.

Furthermore, 95% of Canadian immigrants in the United States have health insurance, compared to 92% of U.S. citizens, with the majority having private insurance instead of public insurance.

Source: Migration Policy Institute, migrationpolicy.org

As tourists, Canadian and U.S. citizens are able to visit approximately the same number of countries without the need for a visa (136 and 138, respectively).

What Is an EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program grants U.S. Green Cards to foreign nationals in exchange for a minimum investment of $800,000 in a qualifying U.S. business. Foreign investors must be accredited investors or qualified purchasers.

For this one qualifying EB-5 visa investment, Canadian investors, their spouses, and any dependent children under 21 can all get U.S. Green Cards, obtaining permanent residency in the United States.

To qualify, foreign investors must prove to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that:

  • Their funds are irrevocably committed to a new commercial enterprise (NCE).
  • The capital will be used to create at least 10 permanent jobs for U.S. workers that last a minimum of two years.

If an investor complies with these EB-5 visa regulations, they are first granted a two-year conditional residency period to live and work in the United States. At the end of the two years, USCIS reviews the investment, and if the job creation criteria and other EB-5 visa requirements have been fulfilled, the investor receives unconditional U.S. permanent resident status. The investor and all of their eligible family members will be able to live and work anywhere in the United States—including the U.S. states without any income tax.

E-2 or EB-5: Which Visa Is Better for Canadian Investors?

Some Canadian investors may also be considering the E-2 visa for treaty investors. The E-2 visa is an employment-based nonimmigrant visa allowing foreign investors from treaty nations to enter the United States to operate a business.

Like the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa allows the investor’s spouse and dependent children under the age of 21 to also receive U.S. visas. However, the E-2 visa is only a temporary visa that must be renewed every two years. The EB-5 visa, on the other hand, is a permanent residency visa that provides a clear path to U.S. citizenship.

EB-5 Visa Availability for Canadian Investors

According to the U.S. State Department’s Annual Visa Report, only 124 Canadian investors were issued EB-5 visas in FY2023.

This number is well below Canada’s annual EB-5 visa quota of approximately 700 EB-5 visas per year. This means that there is plenty of room for more Canadian investors to take advantage of this opportunity without fear of encountering a backlog, as is often the case for countries with very high EB-5 visa demand.

The Benefits of an EB-5 Visa for Canadian Investors

In contrast to some of the more high-risk or lengthy immigration options available to Canadian citizens, the EB-5 visa has several advantages that make it ideal for many Canadian investors seeking U.S. Green Cards.

If an EB-5 investor is careful to comply with all of the EB-5 program’s requirements, they are highly likely to be approved by USCIS and gain U.S. permanent residency.

Here are five benefits of applying for an EB-5 visa:

1. Faster Path to a U.S. Green Card

The EB-5 visa is considered one of the fastest ways to gain permanent residency in the United States, and it is free of the uncertainty surrounding other visas such as the H-1B lottery.

2. No Visa Sponsors

An EB-5 investor’s dependent family members are also eligible for U.S. Green Cards. No employer or educational visa sponsor is required for the EB-5 investor, their spouse, or their dependent children under the age of 21.

3. U.S. Investments

New commercial enterprises (NCEs) in the United States can be extremely lucrative investments. The U.S. economy is the largest and most diverse in the world, making it a safe place for investment.

4. U.S. Education

Canadian investors’ children are eligible to attend U.S. public schools for free. As lawful permanent residents, they will also have a higher chance of acceptance to one of the United States’ world-renowned colleges or universities, where they may be eligible to pay lower in-state tuition fees or seek federal financial aid.

5. Path to U.S. Citizenship

EB-5 investors and their families are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship five years after securing their permanent resident status, which may include the two-year conditional residency.

What Are the Requirements for an EB-5 Visa?

In order to qualify for the EB-5 visa, individuals must make a minimum investment in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) of $1,050,000, or $800,000 if their investment is in a targeted employment area (TEA). See below for more details about targeted employment areas.

The funds must be lawfully sourced and held “at-risk” for two years, meaning it must be a real investment in the NCE. In addition, the investment must create or preserve 10 full-time U.S. jobs during that time period.

Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)

If the chosen EB-5 project is located in a USCIS-designated targeted employment area (TEA), the minimum investment is only $800,000.

TEAs are areas of high unemployment—at least 150% of the national average—with populations of fewer than 20,000 people. These areas are in particular need of EB-5 capital to spur economic growth.

Direct Investment or Regional Center Investment?

Immigrant investors can choose to invest directly in an NCE, but this is relatively rare as it limits the types of jobs that can be counted towards their USCIS-mandated job creation total.

The majority of EB-5 visa applicants choose to pool their money with other investors through the EB-5 Regional Center Program. This reduces financial risk while also making it significantly more likely that investors will be able to easily meet their job creation requirements.

EB5AN has a robust regional center network covering the entire continental United States, making the process much more straightforward for EB-5 visa applicants.

Supporting Documentation

Each form required to apply for the EB-5 visa requires supporting documentation to prove compliance. Compiling all of the necessary documentation at each stage of the EB-5 process can be complex, so it is highly recommended that investors hire an experienced immigration attorney and/or EB-5 program experts to ensure accuracy and completeness.

Examples of supporting documentation needed include:

  • Evidence of Investment
    • The NCE’s foundational documents, such as articles of incorporation, joint venture agreement, partnership agreement, etc.
    • The NCE’s tax returns, investment agreements, payroll records, audited financial statements, legal permits, and all contracts with employees or outside vendors.
    • Signed statements of an investor’s job title—such as COO, board member, or limited partner—and duties in the daily management of the NCE.
  • Lawful Source of Funds

    • Investor and NCE bank statements, invoices, sales receipts, securities agreements, purchase contracts, mortgage agreements, promissory notes, or other such NCE borrowing secured by the investor’s EB5 capital.
  • Job Creation – Direct EB-5 Investors
    • Direct investors can only count full-time workers who are directly employed by the NCE on a W-2 tax form toward their 10 required jobs for U.S. workers.
    • Forms I-9, W-2, and payroll documentation from the NCE.
  • Job Creation – Regional Center Investors
    • Regional center investors can count both direct employees and indirect jobs resulting from the project’s overall economic impact and construction expenditures, allowing greater flexibility in meeting their job creation requirement.
    • Forms I-9, W-2, 1099, or other payroll documentation; as well as bank statements, invoices, receipts, purchase agreements, etc. from the NCE; and an economic impact study.

What Is the Process of Applying for an EB-5 Visa?

EB5AN recommends that all prospective investors seek guidance from EB 5 program experts and immigration attorneys before beginning their EB-5 journey. The fundamental steps in the process include:

1. Invest in a New Commercial Enterprise

As stated above, the first step is to transfer the required minimum investment—usually $800,000 for a regional center project in a targeted employment area—to the project’s account, along with any associated administrative fees.

2. Submit Form I-526/I-526E

Next, the individual must officially apply to the EB-5 visa by submitting Form I-526/I-526E to USCIS. If the foreign national made their investment via a regional center, then they must submit Form I-526E.

This step requires that the investor compile supporting documentation related to their identity, finances, and EB-5 investment, usually with the guidance of an EB-5 program professional. EB5AN can recommend top immigration attorneys who specialize in the EB-5 visa program to assist with this critical step in the process.

3. Apply for a Conditional U.S. Green Card

Once an investor’s I-526/I-526E petition is approved, they and eligible family members will be able to apply for two-year conditional permanent residency status in the United States.

To do so, investors already living in the United States must submit Form I-485 to USCIS, while investors living outside of the United States must submit Form DS-260 and then attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Eligible investors already in the U.S. can file their Form I-485 concurrently with their Form I-526E.

4. Submit Form I-829 and Gain Unconditional U.S. Permanent Residence

After gaining conditional permanent resident status, the investor must fulfill all EB-5 visa requirements over the ensuing two-year period. This primarily entails keeping the required amount of money invested in the NCE, ensuring that money remains exposed to potential loss due to market conditions, and generating the required 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Within 90 days before the end of the two-year conditional permanent resident status period, the EB-5 investor must file Form I-829. Upon approval of the I-829 petition, the immigrant investor will be granted unconditional permanent resident status, at which point they, along with their spouse and dependents, will receive their U.S. Green Card.

To successfully file an I-829 petition, the applicant must present several supporting documents to USCIS as evidence that they have successfully met all requirements of the EB-5 program and qualify for the removal of conditions on their permanent resident status. Again, it is recommended that investors seek professional guidance when completing this important step in the process.

How Long Does It Take to Get an EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 visa process is one of the fastest ways for an entire family to obtain U.S. Green Cards. However, the exact timeline of the process can still be highly unpredictable. The total time required to obtain a U.S. Green Card through the EB-5 program varies depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of project the individual invests in.
  • USCIS processing efficiency.
  • EB-5 visa demand from an individual’s home country.
  • How straightforward or complex an individual’s specific case is.
  • How thoroughly their forms have been completed prior to submission.
  • The level of evidence provided to demonstrate compliance with all EB-5 program requirements.

Processing Times

EB-5 visa processing times are affected by a wide range of factors. The most up-to-date estimated EB-5 visa processing times are available on the USCIS website. These wait times are calculated based on the length of time it takes USCIS to process 80% of all forms, meaning that most applications are processed more quickly than the estimated time.

For example, if the current estimated processing time for Form I-526/I-526E is 55.5 months, then 80% of all petitions will be processed more quickly than that amount of time. Indeed, we know from experience that a significant number of applications are processed within 12 months.

The enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 shows promising action toward streamlining processes and shortening adjudication periods. Still, it is always a good idea to take a conservative approach and assume that an application will take at least the estimated processing time, as this will allow for appropriate preparations in case of an unanticipated delay.

How Can Someone Apply for an EB-5 Visa in Canada?

Prospective Canadian EB-5 investors should note that USCIS regulations can be complex. The agency has very specific criteria regarding job creation and the ways in which EB-5 businesses can operate. A consultation with an EB-5 expert is essential for finding a reliable EB-5 investment opportunity and increasing one’s chances of immigration success through the EB-5 program.

Canadian EB-5 investors can learn more about the EB-5 process by listening to testimonials from Canadians who invested in EB5AN projects:

  • “I found the EB-5 program was the fastest way to get a Green Card and eventually citizenship. Thanks to Sam and the team for providing me all the help and the clarity with the process.” – Sachin A., born in India, living in Canada.
  • “I’m in Florida now… which has no state [income] tax, so there’s a substantial difference that way.” – Tim L., born in Canada.
  • “One, you have choice there. Living in Canada these days is putting a little strain on our choice of things to do. Secondly, the tax rate is quite incredible. It’s overwhelming sometimes. Thirdly… the weather in the southern states is nowhere near what it is in Canada.” – Konstantinos K., born in Canada and citizen of Greece.

EB5AN has helped more than 2,300 families from 60 countries relocate to the United States as lawful permanent residents. Our expert team has more than a decade of experience, and offers clients first-rate, low-risk EB-5 regional center projects with 100% USCIS project approval rate to date.

To begin your family’s EB-5 visa process, book a free call with our team today.