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

The benefits and process of obtaining U.S. permanent residence for Canadians.

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.

Nevertheless, in 2022, it appears that many of Canada’s most appealing features are waning. The past few months have proven to be a watershed period in Canadian history, and cracks are emerging in the country’s formerly moderate socioeconomic landscape.

To escape this unexpected new paradigm, many Canadians are now looking to relocate to the United States. The EB-5 investment visa has, in many cases, proven to be an ideal vehicle for doing so.

Canada Today: A Quick Look

canada, ottawa, parliament hill

The Freedom Convoy

The lengthy 2022 “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa —a protest movement that lasted over three weeks—and the sheer scope of the demonstrations, involving thousands of protestors, have called into question Canada’s apparent political stability. The economic consequences of the blockades could be even more worrying.

For example, due to the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, a key border crossing between the United States and Canada, approximately $3 billion to $6 billion in goods were stalled.

The automobile industry was particularly hard hit, with losses estimated as high as $988 million. Moreover, Export Development Canada estimates that the border crossing blockades resulted in losses of over $600 million per day.

The End of the Commonwealth?

The death of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 also brought new calls for Canadian independence from the British Commonwealth.

Canadian patriation was a century-long process beginning in the mid-1800s of steadily gaining sovereignty from the British Crown. The nation only formally left the British empire with the passage of the Constitution Act in 1982.

In a 2022 Angus Reid Institute poll, 51% of Canadian respondents stated that they do not want the British monarchy to continue as the ceremonial head of state of Canada. A further 24% of Canadians were unsure whether they wanted a monarchical figurehead.

This data, suggesting a staggering 75% of the country either expressly does not want or does not care about continuing to be a part of the British Commonwealth, is in keeping with other polls about total Canadian sovereignty. Another poll conducted by Leger found that 77% of Canadians feel no attachment whatsoever to the British monarchy.

Why Are Canadians Moving to the United States?

Political Concerns

Largely as a result of the long “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa, political tensions have been running high in Canada. In fact, numerous blockades and protests against COVID-19 safety mandates have taken place in other locations across the country.

The Ottawa protests were cleared in late February, but some analysts maintain that this was not an isolated, one-time event; rather, it reflects a long-term shift in Canada’s political ethos. The advent of radical populism may cause Canadian politics to become increasingly turbulent in the coming months and years.

It is also worth noting that the Canadian authorities’ significant delays in clearing the border crossing blockades may eventually undermine trade relations between the United States and Canada.

Economic Interests

Taxation is another concern for many Canadians, who often pay higher taxes than residents of the United States. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Canada collected US$14,693 per capita in tax revenue in 2010, while the United States collected only $11,365 per capita.

These two factors—a foreboding political climate and high taxation—have been the primary catalysts motivating high-net-worth Canadians to relocate to the United States.

A Better Climate

Some Canadian nationals 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 as recently as Q1 of FY 2022 that Canada is the number one source of international visitors to the state of Florida.

The eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Florida and other U.S. states have also prompted many Canadian nationals to consider permanent residence in the United States.

Speaking to Canada’s CTV News, Marilyn Butcher of Sudbury, Ontario says she prefers Florida’s particular “Florida freedoms” to a grueling winter in Ontario. “Being able to bike, kayak, go to the beach and swim are great alternatives to walking on the ice of last winter,” said Butcher.

Furthermore, provinces like British Columbia are experiencing drastic effects of climate change.
Summer temperatures in the province swelled to an impressive 121 degrees Fahrenheit in 2021. Record-breaking winter floods are increasing in severity every year, and just last year turned Vancouver into a veritable island and caused 17,000 British Columbians to flee their homes.

These far-reaching effects indicate that Canada may not be as insulated from climate-related catastrophe as many experts have hoped.

How Many Canadians Are Moving to the United States?

family, beach, sea

According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, 60% of Canadian emigrants take up permanent residence in the United States. As of 2021, there are currently more than 800,000 Canadian nationals with U.S. permanent residence.

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.

Why Are Canadians Living in the United States?

Most Canadian immigrants first enter the United States as students.

Canadian students account for more than one million international students enrolled in U.S. schools. This is the fifth-highest number of international students in U.S. schools, surpassed only by China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Many other Canadians enter the United States through the workforce, on H-1B temporary work visas.

One percent of all H-1B visas in the United States are awarded to Canadian nationals, with Canadians holding more than 427,000 of the coveted H-1B visas.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) also allows some highly-educated Canadians to enter the United States on NAFTA Professional (or TN) visas.

How Do the United States and Canada Compare?

Canadian-born immigrants occupation graph

Source: Migration Policy Institute, migrationpolicy.org

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.

Canadian nationals legally residing in the United States also tend to have much higher incomes than even native-born Americans, with an average income of $89,000 compared to $66,000 for U.S. natives.

Canadian-born immigrants health insurance graph

Source: Migration Policy Institute, migrationpolicy.org

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

Canadians and Americans are both able to visit approximately the same amount of countries as tourists, without the need for a visa (136 and 138, respectively).

What is an EB-5 Visa?

In essence, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program awards Green Cards to foreign nationals in exchange for an investment of at least $800,000 in a qualifying U.S. business. Foreign investors must be accredited investors or qualified purchasers.

For this one qualifying EB-5 investment, a foreign investor, their spouse, and any unmarried children under 21 will all be eligible for U.S. Green Cards, granting them permanent residence in the United States.

USCIS must receive evidence that an investor’s funds are irrevocably committed to a new commercial enterprise (NCE) and that 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 regulations, they are first granted a two-year conditional residency period to live in the United States.

At the end of the two years, USCIS reviews the investment, and if the job creation criteria and other requirements have been fulfilled, the investor receives 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 nine states without an income tax.

E-2 or EB-5: Which is Better?

Some foreign investors may also be considering the E-2 visa, for treaty investors. The E-2 is an employment-based visa allowing for majority-owning foreign investors from treaty nations to enter the United States to conduct their business.

Like the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa allows the investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 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 is a permanent residence visa, with a path to U.S. citizenship.

Canada and The EB-5 Program

According to the State Department’s Annual Visa Report, only 34 Canadians were awarded EB-5 visas in FY 2020.

This is well below Canada’s yearly EB-5 visa quota of approximately 700 EB-5 visas per year. This means there is plenty of room for more EB-5 investors from Canada, without fear of forming a backlog.

What Are the Benefits of an EB-5 Visa for Canadians?

scale, question, importance

In contrast to the many high-risk or extremely lengthy immigration options available, the EB-5 investment visa is ideal for Canadian nationals seeking U.S. Green Cards.

If an EB-5 investor is careful to comply with the applicable regulations, they are highly likely to be approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • Faster Path to a Green Card

The EB-5 program is considered one of the quickest 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.

  • No Visa Sponsors

Much to the benefit of Canadian families, an EB-5 investor’s dependent family members are also eligible for Green Cards. No employer or educational visa sponsor is required for the EB-5 investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21.

  • U.S. Investments

New commercial enterprises in the United States can be lucrative investments. The U.S. economy is the largest and most diverse in the world, with renowned political stability, making it a safe place to invest.

  • American Education

EB-5 investors’ children can attend U.S. public schools for free. As permanent residents, they will also have a higher chance of acceptance to America’s world-renowned higher education institutions, where they can pay lower tuition rates reserved for local students.

  • Potential for Citizenship

Further, EB-5 investors and their families can apply for U.S. citizenship five years after receiving permanent resident status.

What Are the Requirements for an EB-5 Visa?

Foreign investors must make a minimum investment of $1,050,000 or $800,000 (see below) in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) to qualify for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

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

Targeted Employment Areas

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 50% higher than the national average– or rural areas that could use EB-5 capital to spur economic development.

EB5AN keeps an up-to-date TEA map.

Direct Investment or Regional Center?

Immigrant investors can invest directly in an NCE, but they are limited in what counts towards their required job creation.

Nearly all successful EB-5 applicants pool their money with other investors through the EB-5 Regional Center Program. According to a 2021 study, 94% of all EB-5 visas had been awarded to regional center investors.

EB5AN has a robust regional center network covering more than 20 states and territories, including California, Texas, New York, and Florida.

Supporting Documentation

Each petition in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program requires supporting documentation to prove compliance with the various parts of the visa program.

Examples of supporting documentation needed for the EB-5 program include the following:

  • 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 EB 5 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 towards their required 10 jobs.
    • 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 required 10 jobs.
    • 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 for Applying for an EB-5 Visa?

passport, flag, travel

EB5AN recommends that all prospective investors reach out for guidance on how to begin their EB-5 journey. Our investor qualification questionnaire and offering documents help determine if a foreign investor is an accredited investor or a qualified purchaser.

Make The Investment

Transfer the required minimum investment—usually $800,000 for a regional center project—to the project’s account and transfer any administrative fees.

Form I-526/ I-526E

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by a Standalone Investor, is for direct EB-5 investors.

Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by a Regional Center Investor, is for those who invested through an EB-5 regional center, i.e. the majority of EB-5 applicants.

Compile supporting documentation about the investor’s identity, finances, and EB-5 investment with the help of an EB-5 professional. Submit your I-526/I-526E petition and supporting documents to USCIS with the help of immigration counsel.

EB5AN can recommend top immigration attorneys who specialize in the EB-5 visa program.

Temporary Green

Once an investor’s I-526/I-526E petition is approved, the investor and all eligible family members will be granted two-year conditional permanent residence status in the United States.

To get their Green Card, they will either need to contact a U.S. embassy for a consular interview, or file Form I-485 to adjust their immigration status if they are already residing in the United States.

Form I-829 and Permanent Residence

In the last 90 days of the two-year conditional residency, an investor’s immigration attorney will file Form I-829 to remove conditions from their Green Card.

Compile supporting documentation to prove the investment met all requirements, including job creation, and that the NCE’s business plan was executed properly.

Once approved, the investor and their eligible family members will receive full permanent resident status, or U.S. Green Cards without conditions.

If the NCE succeeds, the investor’s principal will be repaid once the loan term expires.

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

passport, smile, travel

The EB-5 visa process is one of the fastest ways to receive Green Cards for an entire family. However, the process still takes several years.

Processing Times

In FY 2022, the median processing time for Form I-526 alone was 44 months, or about three and a half years.

The median processing time for Form I-829 was an additional three and a half years, at 45.5 months in FY 2022.

As of December 2022, USCIS has adjudicated 80% of all I-526 petitions in less than five years. For residents of mainland China, that number is even higher at six and a half years.

USCIS publishes up-to-date processing times for each immigration form on its website, as well as historic processing data going back to FY 2012.

What Effects Processing Times?

The extreme wait times in FY 2022 represent the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing government shutdowns. Operations at U.S. embassies and consulates were limited or suspended for much of the two preceding years, causing delays to skyrocket.

The passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 shows promising action toward streamlining protocols and shortening adjudication periods. Many investors end up having their I-526/I-526E petitions adjudicated in about two years, but wait times vary.

Where Can You Apply for an EB-5 Visa in Canada?

Potential investors should note that complying with USCIS regulations can be challenging; the agency has set out numerous criteria governing job creation and the way EB-5 businesses can operate. Professional consultation is thus essential to finding a reliable EB-5 investment opportunity and increasing one’s chances of immigration success.

EB5AN has helped more than 2,000 families get started on the EB-5 process, and potential investors will be able to have their questions answered by the firm’s managing partner.

3 canadian EB-5 investors

In-person seminars for Canadian investors were held in Toronto and Montreal in March and April 2022. More are being scheduled around North America all the time. In the meantime, interested individuals can learn more about the EB-5 process by listening to testimonials from three Canadian residents who recently invested in an EB5AN-monitored project:

  • “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.

Recent events indicate that there are substantial changes ahead for Canada, and now may be the time for families to seriously consider relocating. The EB-5 visa offers Canadians a reliable, low-risk opportunity to begin a new life in the United States.

Contact EB5AN to begin your family’s EB-5 visa process today.