How Indian Nationals Can Apply for A U.S. Green Card
The EB-5 Visa Program
The EB-5 Immigrant Investment Program was established in 1990 to produce more U.S. jobs and stimulate the economy. By investing in a qualified business, Indian nationals can pursue permanent residency in the U.S. and eventually become citizens.
Why EB-5 Visas Are Popular Among Indian Nationals
Since its conception, the EB-5 visa program has grown in popularity. This is especially true for investors from India, who find it to be a reliable path to a visa for not only themselves but also their immediate family.
It offers a more straightforward path to permanent residency than other visa options, such as the H-1B work visa.
The EB-5 investment program has subsequently become a prime choice, as it is an easy enough process for applicants with sufficient capital. EB-5 wait times are also significantly faster for Indian nationals than for an E-2 or E-3 visa, which can take several decades due to visa backlogs and program setbacks.
Benefits of EB-5 Immigration to the United States
Some of the most significant benefits of becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States through the EB-5 program are:
- Better education opportunities.
- The ability to live, work, and study anywhere in the United States.
- Spouses and unmarried children also receive visas.
- Fewer work restrictions than other visa programs.
- Potential to become a U.S. citizen.
- No visa sponsorship is necessary.
- Access to world-class healthcare and security.
EB-5 Program Requirements
The standard criteria for successfully getting a permanent visa through an EB5 investment are the following.
- An investor must have either a net worth of at least $1,000,000, an income of more than $200,000 for the two previous years, or a joint income of $300,000 for two years together with their spouse.
- The minimum EB-5 investment amount is either $800,000 or $1,050,000, depending on the project’s targeted employment area (TEA) designation.
- The investment must be injected into a new commercial enterprise (NCE).
- The chosen business must produce 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers and sustain these jobs for a two-year period.
- The funds need to be transparent, traceable, and sourced through legal means.
- Photographs, birth certificates, tax returns, medical records, criminal history, military service, and all other required documentation must be provided.
The Cost of Obtaining an EB-5 Investment Visa
Various costs go into the EB-5 application process, including the initial investment into the NCE, filing and administration costs, and legal fees.
The Minimum EB-5 Investment Amounts
Certain areas in the United States have been designated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as TEAs. The minimum investment amount for a TEA project (as well as certain public infrastructure projects) is $800,000. To qualify as a TEA, the area in question must be either:
- Rural and not on the fringes of a town or a city with a population higher than 20,000, or
- Possess an average unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average.
For all other areas outside of a TEA, the minimum EB-5 investment amount is $1,050,000.
Legal and Filing Fees
Filing and administrative fees are required when submitting applications for the EB-5 visa. Investors will also incur legal costs from hiring an immigration lawyer and other EB-5 industry experts.
Important Points to Remember
Here are some factors Indian nationals should be aware of as they begin the EB-5 application process:
- All financial documents, source-of-funds evidence, and tax returns must be accurate. Providing the necessary documentation can be challenging to Indian investors, as most income in India is regularly underreported. This means there may not be adequate traceable documents, regardless of the actual legality of the funds.
- Having the assistance of a qualified EB-5 immigration lawyer is indispensable to ensure petition approval. Investors should retain an attorney with years of experience, professional references, a solid track record with client cases, and a demonstrated ability to keep up with program reforms and immigration laws.
Types of EB-5 Investments
There are two kinds of investment options possible with the EB-5 program: the direct and regional centers programs.
Both can be made inside or outside of a TEA, which is what determines the minimum investment amount. Direct and regional center program EB-5 investments have different requirements.
Direct investment typically allows investors to participate in an NCE within an active managerial role. This makes direct investment particularly attractive to immigrants from India who want to be active in managing the business in which they invest. However, direct EB-5 projects can count only full-time payroll jobs toward fulfilling the employment requirement.
Regional Center Investments
This type of EB-5 investment is facilitated by regional centers located throughout the United States. These regional centers are established entities that function as intermediaries between immigrant investors, project developers, and legal representatives.
Most projects associated with an EB-5 regional center are located within a TEA, which means that the investment capital will be lower.
The most attractive benefit of investing through the regional center program is the ability to count indirect and induced jobs (that is, employment that results from an EB-5 project’s economic impact) within the total for the 10-job requirement minimum. This makes it far easier to create the needed jobs.
How Investors From India Can Apply for an EB-5 Visa
We recommend obtaining the help of an experienced immigration lawyer before applying for an EB-5 investment visa. Each step of the way must be well-informed and taken deliberately.
Steps to Apply for an EB-5 Visa
The main steps for an Indian national to obtain an EB-5 visa are to:
- Choose a suitable NCE for investment.
- Sign a subscription agreement with the business developer.
- Transfer capital funds to the project’s account.
- Submit Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval. Investors then receive a priority date—that is, the date on which they submitted the form.
- Once Form I-526 has been approved, investors living in the United States file Form I-485, or Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to receive a visa for conditional lawful permanent residency from the National Visa Center.
- If outside of the U.S., submit Form DS-260, or Online Immigrant Visa Application at one of the U.S. consulates or embassies in India.
- After I-485 or DS-260 are approved, receive a two-year conditional visa and reside in the United States during this period.
- File Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditional Permanent Status, 90 days before the end of the two-year residency period.
- Once Form I-829 is approved, receive a permanent residency visa.
EB-5 Processing Times for Indian Nationals
EB-5 visa approval is a multi-year process, and its length can vary significantly for each investor.
Processing times can be attributed to the number of foreign applicants, how in-depth each individual petition is, the efficiency of each immigrant visa processing center, the investor’s priority date, and changes to immigration law during the processing period. India currently has a high demand for EB-5 visas, so processing times may be slower than for low-demand countries.
Indians tend to have a much shorter waiting period for approval than immigrants from China, who are undergoing a significant immigrant visa backlog. Still, rising Indian demand may cause the country to build up a large backlog in the near future.
Country of Chargeability
The country of chargeability is the nation determined to be the applicant’s land of origin and establishes an approximate time frame for green card approval.
For an Indian citizen, this means processing times might take longer because of the growing popularity of the EB-5 program in that nation.
Learn More About the EB-5 Visa with EB5AN
EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) is a leading EB-5 firm in the United States. Working with hundreds of foreign investors, industry experts, and immigrant attorneys has made EB5AN one of the most reliable sources for potential investors who would like to learn more about the program.
To find out more information about the EB5 India program and how investors can qualify, book a free consultation with our team.