Can a teenager apply for an EB-5 visa?

Any person under the age of 18 may not enter a legally enforceable contract. Therefore, while the EB-5 visa program does not specify an age limit for primary applicants, it is unlikely that an EB-5 visa application will be granted to a minor. However, it is possible for a person under the age of 18 to receive an EB-5 visa as a derivative beneficiary.

Derivative Beneficiaries

The EB-5 visa process allows the immediate family of an EB-5 investor—their spouse and minor children under the age of 21—to also receive permanent resident status upon adjudication of Form I-526—Immigrant Petition by an Alien Investor. Derivative beneficiaries are only able to receive permanent resident status by way of their connection to the primary applicant which, in the case of the EB-5 visa, is the EB-5 investor.

Child Status Protection Act

Historically, it was possible for a minor derivative beneficiary to “age out” of the EB-5 visa process. Essentially, if Form I-526 was submitted when the derivative beneficiary was still considered a minor, but was approved after they reached the age of 21, they were no longer considered eligible to receive U.S. permanent resident status. In these cases, they had to begin the visa process all over again, as an individual. This created a lot of issues for EB-5 investors who wished to immigrate with their families. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that oversees the EB-5 visa process. In the past, they have dealt with EB-5 visa backlogs that have lasted for years, causing many derivative beneficiaries to “age out” of the process. As a result, Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act which essentially freezes the derivative beneficiary’s age at the time Form I-526 is submitted, not approved. This way, no matter their age at the time of approval, they are still eligible for U.S. permanent resident status. The only condition is that they remain unmarried.