How might a prior mental illness diagnosis affect an EB-5 investor’s admissibility?

Whether or not a past diagnosis of mental illness will affect an investor’s eligibility for the EB5 program depends on the nature of the condition and the extent of recovery. As part of the immigration process, EB5 applicants must be interviewed by the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. Before the interview, they must have a medical examination performed by an embassy-approved doctor — also known as a panel physician.

The purpose of the medical examination is to determine whether any issues are present that would bar admission to the United States. Having an existing mental illness does not automatically disqualify an individual from the EB5 program. However, applicants who are diagnosed with mental disorders with associated harmful behaviors are inadmissible. Harmful behaviors are those which cause psychological or physical injury or threaten the property, safety, or welfare of the self or others. Alcohol use disorders are also treated as a mental disorder for purposes of determining inadmissibility. A record of alcohol-related offenses with associated harmful behavior — such as driving under the influence or domestic violence — could be grounds for inadmissibility.

Typically, a past mental health issue will not affect the approval of the I-526 petition if the applicant has since been diagnosed as healthy. In some cases, however, a prior harmful disorder will still bar admission to the United States if the disorder is likely to recur. This likelihood will be determined during the required medical examination before an applicant’s interview at their U.S. consulate or embassy.

Applicants who have been barred admission based on a mental illness diagnosis can petition for the decision to be waived. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can provide waivers for most medical grounds of inadmissibility except drug abuse and addiction. USCIS will weigh an applicant’s needs against U.S. public health interests to decide if a waiver will be granted. Prospective EB5 investors with current or previous mental illness diagnoses are encouraged to consult an immigration attorney to best prepare for the immigration process.