In order for a foreign national to pursue a degree from a school in the United States, they must obtain an F-1 visa, often referred to as the student visa. This visa allows a student to live and study in the United States for a defined period of time. Since it is a single intent visa, the holder must demonstrate an intent to leave the United States once they finish their studies. This means that an F-1 visa cannot lead to a U.S. green card on its own. However, it is possible for someone with a student visa to simultaneously pursue a green card through the EB5 program.
Foreign nationals who wish to pursue an EB-5 visa and a degree from a U.S. institution at the same time must first obtain the F-1 visa. As aforementioned, the student visa requires an intent to leave the United States. If a foreign national files the I-526 petition before obtaining an F-1 visa, the pending application will indicate an intent to immigrate to the United States. Naturally, this will disqualify a foreign national from obtaining an F-1. Once a foreign national receives their F-1 visa, it is valid for five years. After a student files the I-526 petition, they will not be granted a conditional residency green card until they go through adjustment of status.
Through the EB5 program, dependent family members of the investor are also eligible for a green card. This includes spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. As such, foreign nationals studying with the F-1 visa can also obtain an EB-5 visa if their parent is the principal EB5 applicant.
A student with F-1 status who wishes to pursue an EB5 visa should do so with caution. Foreign nationals are encouraged to consult with an experienced EB5 immigration attorney beforehand. The student visa can be particularly strict, and fraudulent intent issues may arise and endanger an individual’s chance at obtaining an EB5 visa.