Lottery winnings can be used to make an EB-5 investment if the investor can document the source of the funds and the lottery is run lawfully. Two of the basic eligibility requirements for funds used in the EB-5 program are that the investor must be the legal owner of the funds and the funds must have been legally obtained. Source-of-funds documentation might include any documentation received from the lottery organization to confirm the win and bank statements showing the deposit of the winnings.
While United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) probably will not require proof that the funds used to buy the winning ticket were obtained lawfully if the investor bought only a few tickets, this might change if the investor spent thousands of dollars on tickets for the winning draw, as some people do. The investor should consider including evidence that they bought only a few tickets or, if they bought numerous tickets, evidence that the funds used to buy the tickets derived from lawful sources.
Additionally, investors should ensure that the lottery organization is registered and operating lawfully and that they have paid all outstanding taxes on their winnings. If they won a lottery in a different country, they should also ensure that the terms and conditions allow international participants.
Although the source-of-funds documentation in this case may seem straightforward, it would be best for the investor to consult an immigration attorney with EB-5 experience to avoid hidden pitfalls. An EB-5 attorney will also be able to advise the investor on the type of documents they need to include in their I-526 petition to ensure that they meet the burden of proof. Because lottery winnings are an uncommon source of EB-5 investment funding, it would be best to seek professional assistance to improve the likelihood of positive adjudication.