Can an EB-5 applicant apply for an F-1 visa?

An EB-5 applicant may apply for an F-1—academic student—visa, however, it is likely to be denied. The F-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, and participating in the EB-5 visa program demonstrates immigrant intent. As long as an F-1 visa holder maintains their status, they can lawfully remain in the United States. Leaving the country, however, may not be prudent.

Traveling Outside of the United States

An F-1 visa holder may exit the United States and re-enter without any issues. However, a visa is not a guarantee of access to the United States. An F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but a pending I-526 petition demonstrates intention to immigrate. Therefore, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent could, at their discretion, deny entry into the United States. If, however, the investor indicated on the I-526 petition that they intend to consular process upon I-526 approval, reentering the United States is less likely to be problematic.

The Difference Between Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visas

The F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant academic student visa. Holders of this visa do not have the intent to permanently reside in the United States. On the contrary, their intent is to enter the United States as a full-time student to attend an accredited college, university, seminary, or other academic institution or training program. At the end of their course of study, F-1 visa holders are to exit the United States unless they apply for and receive approval of a separate type of visa.

Nonimmigrant visas are meant for only a specified period of time. Immigrant visas, on the other hand, demonstrate an applicant’s intention to make the United States their permanent residence.

Children of EB-5 Applicants

Through the EB-5 program, an investor’s spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 are also eligible for an EB5 visa. Although a principal EB-5 applicant will likely be denied if they apply for the F-1 visa, this may not be the case for an applicant’s children. Children of EB-5 petitioners whose I-526 petitions are pending can have their F-1 applications approved because they themselves have not sought an immigration benefit.