The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is one of the fastest and most reliable ways for foreign nationals and their immediate family members to receive U.S. green cards.
The program is administered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and was created to encourage economic growth.
In exchange for a one-time qualifying investment in a new U.S. business that creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs, a foreign investor, their spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 can receive permanent resident status in the United States.
The EB-5 program requires a significant capital investment in a new commercial enterprise.
Foreign nationals will also need to pay any regional center administrative fees, EB-5 immigration attorney fees, USCIS petition filing fees, or other costs such as the transfer of money between countries.
2023 has seen many changes to the EB-5 program, largely stemming from the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022.
Among many new regulations, this sweeping legislation restarted the EB-5 Regional Center Program, updated several immigration petitions, and added additional fees to support faster processing and compliance investigations, and even raised the required minimum investment amount.
In this article, we will cover everything foreign nationals need to know about the costs of obtaining U.S. green cards for their family through the EB-5 visa program.
Here’s What We’re Going to Cover
What Is An EB-5 Investment?
An EB 5 investment is a capital investment in a U.S. existing business that meets all requirements of the EB5 visa program, and therefore qualifies the foreign investor for immigration to the United States through the EB5 visa program.
Foreign investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or job-creating entity (JCE) in the United States. An investor’s chosen NCE or JCE is often referred to as their EB-5 project.
An investor must maintain an active role in the management of the NCE, such as being a board member.
The investment capital must be lawfully sourced and must be “at-risk” for at least two years. This means that the investment is a real investment, without guarantee of return.
Their capital investment must be used to create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers (at least 35 hours or more per week). These full-time job positions must last a minimum of two years.
There are two types of EB5 investment: direct investments and regional center investments.
Both investments have their own appeals and drawbacks, and each is allowed to claim different types of jobs towards an investor’s job creation requirement.
A direct investment is where an EB-5 investor invests directly in a new commercial enterprise by themselves.
These projects are often smaller and riskier than regional center projects and require investors to take more “hands-on” responsibility in the day-to-day management of the new commercial enterprise.
EB-5 investors who make a direct investment can only count direct jobs towards their job creation requirement, meaning only those employees working for the NCE on a W-2 tax form.
Regional center investment
Regional center investment is when an investor indirectly invests in an NCE through a USCIS-approved EB-5 regional center.
Regional centers pool investment money from multiple EB-5 investors to fund larger, and generally more reliable EB-5 projects, such as hotels.
Regional center EB-5 investors can count direct jobs, indirect jobs, and induced jobs towards their required minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
This expands the possibilities for counting jobs created beyond the NCE itself to jobs created or preserved in the community, such as vendors, tenants, suppliers, and more.
Furthermore, the USCIS allows regional center investors to fulfill their active managerial role in the new commercial enterprise or job creating entity, simply by being a board member or equivalent.
This increased flexibility in the job creation requirement is the primary reason why nearly all successful EB-5 visa candidates choose to invest through an EB-5 regional center.
In fact, a 2018 study found that 94% of all EB-5 visas were awarded to regional center investors.
What Is An EB-5 Visa?
An EB 5 visa is a U.S. green card granting lawful permanent residency to immigrant investors after completing all of the requirements of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
The EB-5 program, like all U.S. visas, is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal government agency in charge of immigration visas.
The term “EB-5” means that this visa is “employment-based” and is the fifth preference within that category.
Other categories of employment-based visas include:
- Workers of extraordinary ability.
- U.S. foreign service employees.
- Multinational executives.
An EB-5 visa does not require a visa sponsor, such as an employer or educational institution.
Investors and their immediate family members are free to live, work, and study anywhere in the United States, without restriction.
They can change jobs, receive social welfare benefits, and even travel internationally without losing their immigration status.
An EB-5 investor visa is granted in two stages: two-year conditional permanent residency and permanent residency without conditions.
After making the EB5 minimum investment in an NCE, investors and their family members apply for conditional residency status.
Conditional residency status lasts two years. During this initial conditional residency, the investment must be kept “at-risk” and the required minimum jobs must be created and sustained.
At the end of the two year conditional permanent residency period, EB-5 investors apply to remove conditions from their immigration visa. Once approved, they will be granted U.S. green cards without conditions.
Green card holders can also apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of U.S. permanent residence.
What Is The EB-5 Minimum Investment Required in 2023?
In 2023, the EB-5 minimum capital investment is $800,000, if the chosen NCE is located in a targeted employment area (TEA).
Alternatively, the minimum EB-5 investment is $1,050,000 for non-TEA projects.
A targeted employment area is a rural area or an area of high unemployment at least 150% above the national average.
Targeted employment area projects allow a lower minimum investment to encourage economic development in underserved communities of the United States.
To see if a particular EB-5 project qualifies for TEA status, take a look at EB5AN’s up-to-date nationwide EB-5 TEA map.
What Are the Costs Related to the EB-5 Visa?
There are many costs involved with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, in addition to the EB-5 investment itself.
For instance, foreign nationals will also need to pay any immigration attorney fees and administrative fees incurred during the EB-5 process.
The USCIS fees have recently increased since the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, to support more efficient petition processing and compliance investigations.
This section will uncover all the details investors need to know about the full EB-5 visa costs in 2023.
What Is The Source Of The EB-5 Visa Cost?
By far, the largest source of EB-5 visa cost is the EB-5 investment itself.
As of March 2022, the minimum EB-5 visa investment is $800,000 for infrastructure or targeted employment area projects, and $1,050,000 for non-TEA projects.
Other costs are associated with the EB-5 visa program that can largely be broken down into three categories:
- Administrative and service fees.
- USCIS petition filing fees.
- EB-5 immigration lawyer fees.
In total, the various USCIS petitions and processing fees add about $10,000 to the cost of the EB-5 investment per family member.
Administrative costs and immigration attorney fees vary widely between various regional centers, law firms, and EB-5 projects. Other fees may include money transfer fees, report writing fees, and mailing costs.
What Are The EB-5 Visa Administration Fees?
EB-5 visa administration fees cover the various expenses incurred during the EB-5 project offering. These fees are charged by the EB-5 regional center and vary depending on the EB-5 project.
Administrative fees cover the costs of marketing expenses for the EB-5 project, agent commissions for recruiting investors, as well as payments to economists, lawyers, and consultants to ensure the project is EB-5 compliant.
Regional center administrative fees vary widely, but often cost between $30,000 and $90,000.
Investors should consider a regional center’s administrative fees very carefully.
An excessively low or high fee could indicate a regional center cuts corners or is untrustworthy. Due diligence is key when considering any EB-5 project or regional center.
Admin fees are an ethical and legal part of the EB-5 visa process.
Navigating the regulations, forms, deadlines, and documentation required for the EB-5 visa process on one’s own is possible, but investors should be advised it will cost them much more time and money in the long run.
Rising costs for EB-5 project offerings in recent years have mostly been due to rising agent commissions or “finder’s fees”, often equal to the regional center fee itself.
How Much Is The EB-5 Visa Petition Filing Fee?
After making a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise, foreign investors will either file:
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by a Standalone Investor, for those who made a direct investment, or
- Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by a Regional Center Investor, if they invested through an EB-5 regional center.
An I-526 petition and its supporting documentation must prove to the USCIS that the investor has made a qualifying EB-5 investment in an NCE and demonstrate exactly how the business plans to use the investor’s capital to create 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers lasting a minimum of two years.
The first USCIS petition in the EB-5 process, Form I-526/I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, has processing fees of $3,675.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 requires all EB-5 regional center investors to submit an additional $1,000 fee with their I-526E application. This fee supports the EB-5 Integrity Fund in the U.S. Treasury.
How Much Is The EB-5 Visa Adjustment of Status Processing Fee?
Once an investor’s I-526 or I-526E petition is approved, they will be granted conditional permanent resident status to live in the United States for two years. They must adjust their visa immigration status to conditional permanent residents.
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, has a processing fee of $1,140 for all persons over the age of 14 and $750 for children under the age of 14.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 allows foreign nationals already legally residing in the United States on a different visa to concurrently file Form I-526/I-526E and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
An $85 biometrics service fee is also required of each applicant.
How Much Is The EB-5 Visa I-829 Application Processing Fee?
In the last 90 days of the two-year conditional permanent residency, investors must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
This form proves that the EB-5 investment has actually fulfilled all of the requirements of the EB-5 program, particularly regarding job creation.
The last EB-5 petition, Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, has a filing fee is $3,750.
Once approved, EB-5 investors will be given U.S. green cards granting lawful permanent resident status.
What Does An EB-5 Visa Immigration Attorney Charge?
Immigration attorneys for the EB-5 visa program usually cost at least $15,000 or more in legal fees.
The EB-5 process is very complex, requiring immense supporting documentation that can be difficult to interpret. Successfully navigating the pitfalls and shortcuts of the EB-5 program is a time-consuming process for even the most experienced EB-5 immigration lawyers.
Although EB-5 immigration attorney fees can seem high, an experienced EB-5 lawyer can speed up an investor’s process, save them time and money, and advise on exactly what supporting documentation to compile at every stage of the EB-5 process.
Working with the EB5AN can also reduce an investor’s stress and responsibility by simplifying the process of applying for an EB-5 visa for an entire family.
EB5AN has more than a decade of EB-5 experience, successfully helping more than 2000 families from over 40 countries through the EB-5 program.
With its own nationwide network of USCIS-approved regional centers covering more than 30 U.S. states and territories, and a 100% petition approval rate with USCIS. EB5AN is uniquely positioned to streamline your EB-5 visa process.
For more information on EB 5 visa costs or what regional center investment opportunities are available now, contact EB5AN today.