Discover the benefits of the EB-5 visa for international students seeking an education in the United States
- Lower Tuition Rates
- Access to Scholarships and Financial Aid
- No Job Limitation
- No Sponsorship Requirement
What is the EB-5 Visa?
Introduced in 1990 by the U.S. Congress, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program serves to stimulate the U.S. economy via foreign investment. Foreign nationals who make a successful EB-5 investment will secure an EB-5 visa — that is, a Green Card — which grants the holder permanent resident status in the United States.
An EB-5 investor’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are also eligible for a Green Card alongside the principal applicant. Moreover, Green Card holders can eventually apply for U.S. citizenship if desired.
To obtain an EB-5 visa, program applicants must invest a minimum of $800,000 into a project of their choosing. This capital must also lead to the creation of at least 10 jobs for American workers. If their EB-5 project is successful, an investor and their eligible family members will receive their U.S. Green Cards and be permitted to indefinitely live, work, and study in the United States.
How Does the EB-5 Visa Benefit International Students?
Thanks to its top-ranked universities the United States is an extremely sought-after study destination for international students. In fact, over a million students come to the United States on an F-1 student visa each year, many of whom intend to stay in the country after graduation.
Unfortunately for these students, the F-1 student visa carries many restrictions.
Although students residing in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa can study at their university, they have limited rights regarding work. These students are typically restricted to university-sponsored employment, meaning their ability to earn money during their academic career is greatly limited. This lack of work experience often results in a sparse resume, hindering a student in their post-graduation job search.
International students who wish to stay in the United States after graduation should consider the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
Not only does the EB-5 visa offer a solution to many common concerns of international students, but U.S. permanent residency grants a student several advantages before, during, and after their time at university.
Green Card holders have higher admission rates, can work freely during their studies, can qualify for in-state tuition rates, and have the right to permanently reside in the country after graduation.
Lower Tuition Rates
U.S. universities charge varying tuition rates for in-state, out-of-state, and international students. Students who reside in the same state as their university of choice pay in-state tuition, while students from a different state must pay out-of-state tuition. Of course, international rates apply to those from outside the United States.
Unfortunately, international tuition rates can be incredibly steep, with these students paying on average three times more than domestic students.
However, the EB-5 visa offers a way around this hurdle. By obtaining an EB-5 Green Card and becoming a U.S. permanent resident, students can qualify for domestic tuition rates. Doing so can save students and their families more than $35,000 per year depending on the university.
Access to Scholarships and Financial Aid
Not only does the EB-5 visa lower tuition rates for international students, but it also grants access to scholarships and financial aid. Whereas foreign students of U.S. universities must compete for a limited number of available scholarships, students with U.S. Green Cards can apply for scholarships offered only to U.S. residents.
Moreover, U.S. schools and the country’s federal and state governments offer grants and zero-interest loans that are only accessible to Green Card holders and U.S. citizens.
No Job Limitation
As mentioned before, individuals studying in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa have limited rights regarding employment. F-1 students cannot work more than a certain number of hours during their education, are sometimes limited to jobs only on campus, and can oftentimes only apply for unpaid positions.
These restrictions do not apply to Green Card holders and U.S. citizens, thus allowing them to work freely. This opens the door to greater employment opportunities and the chance to gain valuable experience that can aid in the post-graduation job search.
No Sponsorship Requirement
Many international students end up having to leave the United States after completing their studies and Optional Practical Training (OTP) period. To avoid this, students with F-1 visa status must either find an employer to sponsor them or obtain an H1-B visa. Either of these pathways can fall through and leave a student with no choice but to leave the country.
The EB-5 visa offers a huge advantage to international students by removing the stress of securing a work visa and employment after graduation. By obtaining U.S. permanent residency, students do not have to worry about their status post-graduation and can instead take the time to find the right employment and advance their career.
When Should Students Begin the EB-5 Process?
In the case of school-aged children, an EB-5 application should be considered well before the child turns 18. Although the EB-5 program offers one of the fastest and most efficient routes to a U.S. Green Card, the full process can take several years from start to finish, making it imperative to anticipate processing times.
Beginning the EB-5 process as early as possible will help ensure a student can benefit from their EB-5 visa in time for university.
How Can International Students Invest in EB-5?
In most cases, international students themselves do not possess the capital necessary to make an EB-5 investment, but their parents might. As such, many parents give EB-5 investment funds to their college-aged children so they can apply for the program. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts EB-5 funds from many types of sources, including gifts.
To make an EB-5 investment with donated funds, a student must present an agreement stating the capital is a gift and that they have no obligation to repay the donor, as well as evidence from the donor proving the lawful source of funds.
EB-5 Investment First Steps
The EB-5 visa is an excellent solution to many common concerns of international students. By securing a U.S. Green Card, students studying in the nation on F-1 visa status do not have to worry about maintaining valid residency status and can instead focus on advancing their careers.
While obtaining an EB-5 visa is incredibly advantageous to international students, the process of securing one is complex and often challenging to navigate on one’s own. Moreover, mistakes in the application process can lead to costly delays and jeopardize an applicant’s path to U.S. permanent residency.
Prospective EB-5 investors should work with experienced immigration attorneys to ensure they meet eligibility requirements and are making a wise investment.
To learn more about the types of available investment opportunities, reach out for a free consultation today.